Text in this Example:
Building a Emergency\Disaster Kit
A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.
Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Manual can opener for food
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Additional Emergency Supplies
Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula and diapers
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit - EFFAK (PDF - 977Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information.
Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information from this web site. (See Publications)
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
First Aid Kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may suffer an injury. If you have these basic first aid supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.
Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. You may consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
Two pairs of Latex or other sterile gloves if you are allergic to Latex
Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes
Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
Other first aid supplies:
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
Supplies for Unique Needs
Remember the unique needs of your family members, including growing children, when making your emergency supply kit and family emergency plan.
¨Formula ¨Diapers ¨Bottles ¨Powdered milk ¨Medications ¨Moist towelettes ¨Diaper rash ointment
For more information about the care and feeding of infants and young children during an emergency, visit the California Dept. of Public Health website.
¨Denture needs ¨Contact lenses and supplies ¨Extra eye glasses
Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.
If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:
¨Jacket or coat ¨Long pants ¨Long sleeve shirt
Maintaining Your Kit
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:
•Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
•Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
•Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded.
•Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies.
•Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
•Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
•Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.
Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days.
Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
Additionally, you may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.
You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food and water and other necessities like medicines in your kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.
Your kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.
In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should include:
•Flashlights and extra batteries
•First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
•Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
•Water for each person and pet in your car
•AM/FM radio to listen to traffic reports and emergency messages
•Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
•Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
•Blankets or sleeping bags
A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger
Flares or reflective triangle
Baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.
Consider the following things when putting together your emergency food supplies:
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Choose foods your family will eat.
Remember any special dietary needs.
Avoid foods that will make you thirsty.
Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.
Following a disaster, there may be power outages that could last for several days. Stock canned foods, dry mixes and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water or special preparation. Be sure to include a manual can opener and eating utensils.
Suggested Emergency Food Supplies
The following items are suggested when selecting emergency food supplies. You may already have many of these on hand.
¨Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables and a can opener ¨Protein or fruit bars ¨Dry cereal or granola
¨Peanut butter ¨Dried fruit ¨Nuts ¨Crackers ¨Canned juices ¨Non-perishable pasteurized milk ¨High energy foods
¨Vitamins ¨Food for infants ¨Comfort/stress foods
Food Safety & Sanitation
Flood, fire, national disaster or the loss of power from high winds, snow or ice could jeopardize the safety of your food. Knowing what to do before and after an emergency can help you reduce your risk of illness and minimize the amount of food that may be lost due to spoilage.
Power outages can occur at any time of the year and it may take from a few hours to several days for electricity to be restored to residential areas. Without electricity or a cold source, food stored in refrigerators and freezers can become unsafe. Bacteria in food grow rapidly at temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, and if these foods are consumed, people can become very sick.
Keep food in covered containers.
Keep cooking and eating utensils clean.
Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary.
Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected.
Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater.
Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more.
Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture.
Use ready-to-feed formula, if possible, for formula-fed infants. If using ready-to-feed formula is not possible, it is best to use bottled water to prepare powdered or concentrated formula. If bottled water is not available, use boiled water. Use treated water to prepare formula only if you do not have bottled or boiled water. Breastfed infants should continue breastfeeding.
Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded, even though the product may look safe to eat.
Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal, even if the can looks normal.
Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons.
Note: Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still “refrigerator cold.” It can be re-frozen if it still contains ice crystals. To be safe, remember, “When in doubt, throw it out.”
Alternative cooking sources in times of emergency including candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace.
Charcoal grills and camp stoves are for outdoor use only.
Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming.
To heat food in a can:
1. Remove the label.
2. Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can. (Use a diluted solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.)
3. Open the can before heating.
Managing Food without Power
Have a refrigerator thermometer.
Know where you can get dry ice.
Keep a few days’ worth of ready-to-eat foods on hand that do not require cooking or cooling.
When the Power Goes Out:
Keep the refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible.
The refrigerator will keep food cold for about 4 hours if it is unopened.
Refrigerators should be kept at 40° F or below for proper food storage.
Once the Power is Restored:
Check the temperature inside the refrigerator and freezer.
If an appliance thermometer was kept in the freezer, check the temperature when the power comes back on. If the freezer thermometer reads 40° F or below, the food is safe and may be refrozen. If a thermometer has not been kept in the freezer, check each package of food to determine its safety. You can't rely on appearance or odor. If the food still contains ice crystals or is 40° F or below, it is safe to refreeze or cook.
Refrigerated food should be safe as long as the power was out for no more than 4 hours. Keep the door closed as much as possible.
Discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs or leftovers) that has been above 40° F for two hours or more.
Using Dry Ice:
Under normal circumstances you should not keep dry ice in your freezer. If your freezer is functioning properly it will cause the unit to become too cold and your freezer may shut off. However, if you lose power for an extended period of time, dry ice is the best ways to keep things cold.
Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days.
If you use dry ice to keep your food cold, make sure it does not come in direct contact with the food.
Use care when handling dry ice, wear dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury
Essentials of Managing Water
Allow people to drink according to their needs
Many people need even more than the average of one gallon per day. The individual amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition and time of year.
Never ration drinking water unless ordered to do so by authorities.
Drink the amount you need today and try to find more for tomorrow. Under no circumstances should a person drink less than one quart (four cups) of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.
Drink water that you know is not contaminated first.
If necessary, suspicious water, such as cloudy water from regular faucets or water from streams or ponds, can be used after it has been treated. If water treatment is not possible, put off drinking suspicious water as long as possible, but do not become dehydrated.
Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of drinking water.
Carbonated beverages do not meet drinking-water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol dehydrate the body, which increases the need for drinking water.
Turn off the main water valves.
You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines or if local officials advise you of a problem. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure you and your family members know how to perform this important procedure.
Melted ice cubes.
Liquids from canned goods such as fruit or vegetables.
Water drained from pipes. To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. A small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home.
Water drained from the water heater. To use water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot-water faucet. After you are notified that clean water has been restored, you will need to refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on. If the gas is turned off, a professional will be needed to turn it back on.
Radiators Hot water boilers (home heating systems).
Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank.
Water beds. Fungicides added to the water or chemicals in the vinyl may make water unsafe to use.
Swimming pools and spas. Chemicals used to kill germs are too concentrated for safe drinking but can be used for personal hygiene, cleaning and related uses.
If you have used all of your stored water and there are no other reliable clean water sources, it may become necessary in an emergency situation to treat suspicious water. Treat all water of uncertain quality before using it for drinking, food washing or preparation, washing dishes, brushing teeth or making ice. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms (germs) that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.
There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom or strain them through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth. Make sure you have the necessary materials in your disaster supplies kit for the chosen water treatment method.
Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.
You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes with time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.
Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 or 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.
While boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes (germs) that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Distillation involves boiling water and then collection of only the vapor that condenses. The condensed vapor will not include salt or most other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water.
Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
Effectiveness of Water Treatment Methods
Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination. Prepare yourself by building a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs during an emergency.
How Much Water Do I Need?
You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day. A normally active person needs at least one gallon of water daily just for drinking however individual needs vary, depending on age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. To determine your water needs, take the following into account:
One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
A medical emergency might require additional water.
If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
How Should I Store Water?
It is recommended you purchase commercially bottled water, in order to prepare the safest and most reliable emergency water supply. Keep bottled water in its original container and do not open until you need to use it. Observe the expiration or “use by” date. Store in cool, dark place.
Preparing Your Own Containers of Water
It is recommended you purchase food grade water storage containers from surplus or camping supplies stores to use for water storage.
Before filling with water, thoroughly clean the containers with dishwashing soap and water and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
If you chose to use your own storage containers, choose two-liter plastic soft drink bottles – not plastic jugs or cardboard containers that have had milk or fruit juice in them. Milk protein and fruit sugars cannot be adequately removed from these containers and provide an environment for bacterial growth when water is stored in them. Cardboard containers also leak easily and are not designed for long-term storage of liquids. Also, do not use glass containers, because they can break and are heavy.
Storing Water in Plastic Soda Bottles
Follow these steps for storing water in plastic soda bottles.
Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishwashing soap and water, and rinse completely so there is no residual soap.
Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.
Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If the tap water has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything else to the water to keep it clean. If the water you are using comes from a well or water source that is not treated with chlorine, add two drops of non-scented liquid household chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using.
A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 15 minutes.
Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.
Water can also be treated with water purification tablets that can be purchased at most sporting goods stores.
Water that has not been commercially bottled should be replaced every six months.
Removes other contaminants (heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals)
You can avoid many dangerous weather problems by planning ahead. Plan long trips carefully, listening to the radio or television for the latest weather forecasts and road conditions. If bad weather is forecast, drive only if absolutely necessary.
Check or have a mechanic check the following items on your car:
Keep your gas tank full - in case evacuation is needed.
Do not drive through a flooded area - Six inches of water can cause a vehicle to lose control and possibly stall. A foot of water will float many cars.
Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded - Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
Antifreeze levels - ensure they are sufficient to avoid freezing.
Battery and ignition system - should be in top condition and battery terminals should be clean.
Brakes - check for wear and fluid levels.
Exhaust system - check for leaks and crimped pipes and repair or replace as necessary. Carbon monoxide is deadly and usually gives no warning.
Fuel and air filters - replace and keep water out of the system by using additives and maintaining a full tank of gas. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
Heater and defroster - ensure they work properly.
Lights and flashing hazard lights - check for serviceability.
Oil - check for level and weight. Heavier oils congeal more at low temperatures and do not lubricate as well.
Thermostat - ensure it works properly.
Windshield wiper equipment - repair any problems and maintain proper washer fluid level.
Install good winter tires - Make sure the tires have adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate for most winter conditions. However, some jurisdictions require that to drive on their roads, vehicles must be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
Make an Emergency Kit for Your Car
In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car including:
Jumper cables: might want to include flares or reflective triangle
Flashlights: with extra batteries
First Aid Kit: remember any necessary medications, baby formula and diapers if you have a small child
Food: non-perishable food such as canned food, and protein rich foods like nuts and energy bars
Manual can opener
Water: at least 1 gallon of water per person a day for at least 3 days
Basic toolkit: pliers, wrench, screwdriver
Pet supplies: food and water
Radio: battery or hand cranked
Cat litter or sand: for better tire traction
Clothes: warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes for the cold
Blankets or sleeping bags
Charged Cell Phone: and car charger