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Build a Kit

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Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond. 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. Below is a list of suggested items to include in your disaster supplies kit.

Click on the sections below to learn more.

1. Core Kit Components

  • 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 enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days.
  • Include:
    • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won’t spoil.
    • One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
    • A first aid kit that includes your family’s prescription medications.
    • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
    • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler’s checks.
    • Sanitation supplies
    • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
    • An extra pair of glasses.
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.

2. Maintaining Your Kit

  • Use or discard self-bottled water within six months and commercially bottled water within a year.
  • Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
  • Rotate your stored food every six months.
  • Store water in a cool, dark location.
  • Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update cloths, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

3. Where to Store Your Kit

  • Your supplies can be stored in more than one container provided they are stored together and easy to access. Consider containers that will protect the enclosed supplies from the elements.
  • Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in a 50-gallon barrel, camping backpack, or duffel bag.
  • Store your kit in a convenient place know to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Do no place plastic containers directly on cement floors. Lead and other contaminants may leak into the food or water if the container is placed on cement.

4. Food & Water

  • 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, etc.
    • High energy foods—peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
    • Vitamins
    • Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
    • Comfort foods—cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea
  • 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 a least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.
  • Water Filtering Systems
    • Today, there are many types of water filters available on the market
      • Boiling
      • Pump filters and purifiers
      • No-pump (gravity-dependent) filters and purifiers
      • Squeeze bottles (with in-line filtering “straws”)
      • Mixed oxidant solution pen
      • Ultraviolet light pen, or wand
      • Chemicals (aka halogens)
  • How to purify water
    • First, strain water through a paper towel, a coffee filter or a clean cloth into a container to remove any sediment, floating matter or glass. Use on of the following method to disinfect the water:
      • Boiling: Boil vigorously for 3-5 minutes.
      • Purification Tablets: Purchase from drug store and follow the directions.
      • Hypochlorite Bleach: Use 5.25% sodium hypochlorite solution (household chlorine bleach). Do not use granular bleach or solutions with active ingredients other than hypochlorite. Bleach should not be over 6 months old.
        • Use the following proportions:
          • Clear Water:
            • 1 quart – 2 drops
            • 1 gallon – 8 drops
            • 5 gallons – ½ Tsp
            • Cloudy Water:
              • 1 quart – 4 drops
              • 1 gallon – 16 drops
              • 5 gallons – 1 Tsp
              • Mix thoroughly and let stand for 30 minutes before using. A slight chlorine odor should be detectable in the water; if not, repeat procedure a second time.
              • Tincture of Iodine: same procedure as bleach.
  • Pure water sources
    • Should you run low on water supplies, there could be additional water resources stored in your home. Here are a few examples:
      • Bottled water: Store commercially bottled water or bottle your own water in appropriate food grade containers.
      • Canned goods: Drain liquid from canned goods.
      • Ice cubes: melt ice cubes.
      • Hot water tank: Turn off gas or electricity before draining off water for emergency use. The water valve to the hot water tank should also be turned off.
      • Rain water: Can be collected and purified.
      • Toilet Tanks: Siphon or pan water out of the tank only. DO NOT use chemically treated “blue water.”
      • Swimming poll water: not a preferable for consumption. Safe for sanitation purposes.

5. First Aid Supplies

Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kits 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)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pair)
  • Sunscreen
  • Non-prescription drugs
    • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacid (for upset stomach)
    • Syrup for Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
    • Laxative
    • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

6. Tools & Supplies

  • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler’s checks, change
  • Non-electric can opener, utility knife
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • 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
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)
  • Toilet paper
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach

7. Clothing & Bedding

  • Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.
  • Sturdy shoes or work boots
  • Rain gear
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Hat and gloves
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sunglasses

8. Special Items

  • For baby
    • Formula
    • Diapers
    • Bottles
    • Powdered milk
    • Medications
  • For adults
    • Heart and high blood pressure medication
    • Insulin
    • Prescription drugs
    • Denture needs
    • Contact lenses and supplies
    • Extra eye glasses
  • Entertainment
    • Games
    • Books
  • Important Family Documents
    • Keep 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)

9. Local Suppliers of Emergency/Disaster Kits and Services

Next, complete Step 3 “Stay Informed