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Family Disaster Supply Kit

For further information in creating a Family Disaster Supply Kit, read the Disaster Preparation Handbook and download a Family Emergency Preparedness Checklist.

When creating a Family Disaster Supply Kit, keep the following in mind:

  • The number and ages of people for whom you are providing
  • The space available for storing your kit
  • Any health or mobility problems for the people in your household

There are six basics you should stock in your home: water, food, first aid, clothing and bedding, and emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. Possible containers include a large, covered trash container, a camping backpack, or a duffle bag.

Suggestions and Reminders

  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supply Kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep items in air tight plastic bags.
  • Change your stored water supply every three 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.


Water should be stored in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as mason jars or glass bottles. Never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow:

  • Store one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation.)
  • Purifying agents.

How to Purify Water

In emergency situations, the water in water heaters, toilet tanks (not the bowls), ice cubes, and water beds may be purified and used. Note: Do not use bleach to purify water in a water bed. Use a manufacturer provided purifier that will not harm the plastic material of the bed.

  • Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. To improve taste, pour from one clean container to another several times.
  • Purification Tablets: Available at any sporting goods or drug store. Follow directions on the package. Usually one tablet is enough for one quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water.
  • Bleach Purification: Liquid household bleach can also be used if the label states sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient and there is no perfume (such as lemon scent) in the bottle. Add bleach according to the directions below, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine after 30 minutes, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes.
    • For one (1) quart of water, add two (2) drops if the water is clear, four (4) drops if the water is cloudy.
    • For one (1) gallon of water, add eight (8) drops if the water is clear, 16 drops if the water is cloudy.
    • For five (5) gallons of water, add 1/2 tsp. if the water is clear, 1 tsp. if the water is cloudy.


Select foods that require no refrigeration, cooking, or preparation. If you must heat food, pack a can of Sterno. Select food items that are compact and lightweight:

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Smoked or dried meats such as beef jerky
  • Juices - canned, powdered, or crystallized
  • Soups - bouillon cubes or dried "soup in a cup"
  • Milk - powdered or canned
  • Staples - sugar, salt, pepper
  • High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, crackers, nuts, health food bars, trail mix
  • Stress foods - sugar cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereal
  • Vitamins

First Aid Kit

You should have two first aid kits - one for your home, and one for your car. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual. An emergency first aid kit should have:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (8-12)
  • 3-inch sterile gauze pads (8-12)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors, tweezers, needle, safety razor blade
  • Bar of soap
  • Moistened towelettes (8-10 individual packages)
  • Antiseptic spray
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades and wood applicator sticks
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent - soap
  • Latex gloves

Non-Prescription Drugs

  • Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Emetic (use to induce vomiting if advised by Poison Control)
  • Laxative
  • Eye wash
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Antiseptic or hydrogen peroxide
  • Activated charcoal (use if advised by Poison Control)

Tools and Supplies

  • Mess kits, or paper cups, paper plates, and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight 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


  • Toilet paper, towelettes
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties
  • Small shovel, for digging an expedient latrine
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and 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

Special Items

Remember family members with special needs such as infants, elderly, or disabled individuals.

For Baby

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications

For Adults

  • Heart & high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eyeglasses
  • Entertainment - games for children; books for adults
  • Important Family Documents - keep these records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Wills, 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)

For further information in creating a Family Disaster Supply Kit, read the Disaster Preparation Handbook and download a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan.