How to build an emergency kit

These supplies can help you weather any disaster

During a disaster, it may be necessary for you to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared with a stockpile of emergency supplies can help you make it through the crisis until normalcy is restored.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, you should at least have an emergency supply of food and water that can last for several days.

Every kit should have these items

Here’s a list from FEMA of the supplies every emergency kit should include.

  • Water — You need a gallon per person per day for several days. It will be used not only for drinking but also for sanitation.
  • Food — You need at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert.
  • Flashlight.
  • First aid kit.
  • Extra batteries.
  • Whistle — You can use this to signal for help.
  • Dust mask — You can use this to help filter the air in the event it becomes contaminated.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape in case you need to shelter in place.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties.
  • Wrench or pliers so that you can turn off utilities if need be.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Local maps.
  • Cellphone with chargers and a backup battery.

Consider adding these items

FEMA also recommends you include the following items in your emergency kit, based on your personal needs.

  • Masks — You should have masks for everyone ages 2 and above. Also, make sure you have soap, hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes. This is recommended by the CDC in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Prescription medications.
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives.
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution.
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream.
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet.
  • Cash or traveler's checks.
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container.
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • 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.

Maintain your kit

According to FEMA, you should maintain your emergency kit once it’s assembled. This will ensure that it’s ready to go in the event of a disaster.

Canned goods should be stored in a cool, dry place, and boxed foods should be stored in plastic or metal containers that tightly close, according to FEMA.

Don’t forget to replace items in your kit that have expired.

More info

FEMA has more guidance about where and how you should store your kit at ready.gov/kit.

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