Building a Disaster Kit

Stocking a disaster kit means keeping these essentials in mind: water, food, first aid supplies, including over-the-counter medications, clothing and bedding, tools, sanitation items, and special considerations for infants, the elderly, and pets.

It is important to note that you may need different supply kits available in different situations. For example, a home kit is not going to do you any good if you are at work when a disaster occurs. Following are recommendations from FEMA and the American Red Cross on preparing disaster kits.


  • Water: You should store at least two quarts of drinking water and two quarts for food preparation and sanitation daily per person. Water should be stored in plastic containers. Stock enough water for three days.
  • Food: Store non-perishables, canned meats, fruits, vegetables, juices, high energy bars, vitamins, baby food to last your family three days.
  • First Aid: You should include various sized bandages, roller gauze, antiseptic wipes, adhesive tape, non-latex gloves, cold pack, tweezers, scissors, over-the-counter aspirin, laxatives, antacids, and anti-diarrhea medications.
  • Sanitation and Tools: Your kit should contain a flashlight and batteries, a non-electric can opener, matches, foil, plastic storage containers, cash and change, tape, pliers, sterno, signal flare, toilet paper, soap, personal hygiene items, plastic garbage bags, and a plastic bucket with lid.
  • Clothing and Bedding: Be sure to include sturdy footwear, rain gear, blankets or sleeping bags, hat and gloves, thermal underwear and one change of clothing per person.
  • Special Items: Prescription drugs, eyeglasses, food, diapers and powdered milk for infants, important documents such as Will, passports, household inventory, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, etc. should also be part of the disaster kit. Documents should be stored in non-flammable and waterproof containers.

Food and water should be replaced every six months and review kit contents annually to adapt to family needs (such as clothing sizes for children). Store items in airtight plastic bags.


Below are examples of supplies for a portable kit, which may be stored in your car and used for emergencies if you are away from home, at school or the workplace. This is developed by FEMA and the American Red Cross.

As with the home disaster kit, portable disaster kits need to be customized to fit you and your family, adding items such as medications and infant formula.

Recommended Supplies to include in a portable disaster kit include:

  • Water, amounts for portable kits will vary. Individuals should determine what amount they are able to both store comfortably outside the home and be able to transport to other locations.
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. If your kit contains canned food, be sure to include a non-electric can opener.
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First Aid kit.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air.
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
  • Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant.
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.


A personal disaster kit for the workplace -- where you may be confined for several hours or overnight -- is similar to contents in the portable kit listed above.

Important items include: Flashlight and extra batteries, battery-powered radio, food for one day including high-energy bars, at least one gallon of water, medications, first aid basics, paper plates and plastic utensils, soap, toothpaste, personal hygiene items, one change of clothing, sturdy footwear, and plastic garbage bags.


The American Red Cross and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) recommends the following supplies for a pet care kit:

  • Medications, leashes or harnesses and carriers to transport, current photos in case the pets get lost, food, water, bowls, kitty litter/pan, hand-operated can opener, bed and toys if easy to carry, newspapers, paper towels, trash bags, household bleach.
  • A written list of medications, behavioral issues, feeding schedule, contact information for veterinarian - in case of boarding needs.
  • Birds: Move in a secure travel cage and wrap in a blanket if the weather is cold. Provide sliced fresh fruit or vegetables high in water; have a photo; keep carrier in quiet area, if possible.
  • Reptiles: Transport snakes in a pillowcase, include large water bowl for soaking and carry food.
  • Pocket Pets: Take in secure carriers, along with food bowls, bedding and water bottles.

Pets and their supplies should be evacuated with you. If your pets cannot stay with you, plan ahead for sheltering at a safe, prearranged location. (Pets are not allowed at Red Cross shelters.) Take extra care to keep your pets safe. Remember animals react differently under stress than they would normally behave. They may panic and hide, run away, bite or scratch. In emergency situations, dogs should be kept on leashes and cats should be kept in carriers.