How to Create a Family Disaster Kit
After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?
Your family will cope best by preparing for disaster before it strikes. One way to prepare is by assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit. Once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies. But if you've gathered supplies in advance, your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.
To prepare your kit, review the checklists in this document.
Gather the supplies that are listed. You may need them if your family is confined at home.
Place the supplies you'd most likely need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. These supplies are listed with an asterisk (*).
Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond.
A highway spill of hazardous material could mean instant evacuation.
A winter storm could confine your family at home. An earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off basic services--gas, water, electricity and telephones--for days.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need more.
- Store one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation)*
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight.
*Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered, store extra water)
- Staples--sugar, salt, pepper
- High energy foods--peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
- Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
- Comfort/stress foods--cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kit* should include:
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
- Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
- Triangular bandages (3)
- 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
- Moistened towelettes
- Tongue blades (2)
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Assorted sizes of safety pins
- Cleansing agent/soap
- Latex gloves (2 pair)
- Non-prescription drugs
- Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach upset)
- Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.
There are six basics you should stock in your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container--suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*). Possible containers include a large, covered trash container; a camping backpack; or a duffle bag.
Tools and Supplies
- Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils*
- Emergency preparedness manual*
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*
- Flashlight and extra batteries*
- Cash or traveler's checks, change*
- Nonelectric can opener, utility knife*
- Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
- Tube tent
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
- Plastic sheeting
- Map of the area (for locating shelters)
- Toilet paper, towelettes*
- Soap, liquid detergent*
- Feminine supplies*
- Personal hygiene items*
- Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
- Sturdy shoes or work boots*
- Hat and gloves
- Rain gear*
- Thermal underwear
- Blankets or sleeping bags*
Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.
- For Baby*
- Powdered milk
- For Adults*
- Heart and high blood pressure medication
- Prescription drugs
- Denture needs
- Contact lenses and supplies
- Extra eye glasses
- Entertainment--games and books.
- Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container.
- Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records
- Bank account numbers
- Credit card account numbers and companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
SUGGESTIONS AND REMINDERS
- Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car.
- Keep items in air-tight plastic bags.
- Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
- Rotate your stored food every six months.
- Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
- Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.
CREATE A FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
To get started...
Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and your local American Red Cross chapter.
- Find out which disasters are most likely to happen in your community.
- Ask how you would be warned.
- Find out how to prepare for each.
Meet with your family.
- Discuss the types of disasters that could occur.
- Explain how to prepare and respond.
- Discuss what to do if advised to evacuate.
- Practice what you have discussed.
Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster.
- Pick two meeting places:
- a location a safe distance from your home in case of fire
- a place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home
- Choose an out-of-state friend as a "check-in contact" for everyone to call.
Complete these steps:
- Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
- Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
- Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
- Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
- Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information and training.
Meet with your neighbors.
Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster. Know your neighbors' skills (medical, technical). Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.
Remember to practice and maintain your plan.