While local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, it may not be possible for them to reach everyone right away. It could take hours, or even days, for assistance to reach you. Basic services such as electricity, water, and communication may be cut off for days, weeks, or longer. It is possible you may need to leave at a moment’s notice.

Being prepared means having your own food, water, and other supplies to last several days. An emergency kit should contain basic items your household needs in the event of an emergency. Being able to take essential items with you quickly is important since you may not have the opportunity to shop or search for supplies.


A home disaster preparedness kit should include items you believe may be needed to keep your family safe and comfortable in an emergency. Keep your kit clearly labeled in a cool, dry place where it’s easily accessible when you need it at home or a shelter.

You will need to periodically go through your emergency supply kits to make sure the items in it are not outdated. Go through your supply kits at least every six months to check for food, batteries, and other items that may have expired.

To assemble your kit, store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry waterproof containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
  • Water and non-perishable food for each person for 3-5 days
  • First aid kit
  • Money (ATMs or online services may be unavailable)
  • Copies of important documents such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates, insurance policies, and financial information
  • Can opener, plates, and utensils
  • Flashlight, battery-operated radio, and extra batteries for each
  • Extra clothing and bedding


Some families may have special needs or other items to consider for their emergency kits.

If you have infants, remember to pack enough formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.

If you have children, consider adding books, toys, or games to help keep them occupied.


Additional items to include in an emergency kit for older adults include:

  • A 3–5-day supply of medications
  • ID band (full name, contact number for family member/caregiver, and allergies)
  • Hearing aids and extra batteries
  • Glasses or contacts and contact solution
  • Medical supplies
  • Information about medical devices such as wheelchairs, walkers, and oxygen
  • Documents in a water-proof bag. These may include:
    • Care plan
    • List of medications
    • Contact information for family, caregivers, and doctors
    • List of allergies
    • Copies of medical insurance or Medicare cards
    • Power of attorney and/or medical power of attorney documents, as appropriate

This checklist includes medical devices, assistive technology devices, and supplies for people with physical disabilities you may need for your personal emergency kit.

These items are to be considered in addition to the items listed above:

  • Stethoscope
  • Blood pressure cuff
  • Kits for ostomy, urostomy, and/or wound care supplies
  • Medical alert devices
  • Special dietary needs
  • Medications
  • Respiratory devices
  • Heavy gloves for wheeling
  • Small mechanic’s toolkit
  • Bicycle tire pump and tire repair kit
  • WD-40
  • Magnifying glass
  • Scissors
  • Small sewing kit
  • Paper/notebook and pencil/pen
  • Communication devices
  • Mobility Devices
  • Prosthetic/Orthotic devices
  • Assistive technology devices

In addition to supplies needed for a general emergency, you may need to add several things to help yourself or loved ones with special needs.

  • Copy of care plan
  • List of behavioral triggers and medical needs
  • Bring familiar items that will help those with autism or other developmental disorders adjust to new surroundings.
  • A list of any communication difficulties, including the best way to communicate with your or a loved one
  • Your IEP and any medical records or evaluations on hand
  • Pack any needed assisted technology devices and don’t forget chargers.
  • iPads (and other medical equipment) used to communicate
  • Bring headphones or earplugs to help with noises
  • Consider a roll of duct tape to help create visible perimeters of your space in a communal-style shelter

to-go kit

If you need to leave your home immediately, be ready to go as quickly as possible. Having a “go bag” in an accessible ensures you and your family are prepared for any situation. Locations to store a go bag include under a bed, in a closet, or near a door.

Each member of your family should have their own go bag. The bag should be easy to carry. Consider also having a go bag at work.

Like a home emergency kit, go bags should be updated every six months.

Essential items to include in a go bag:
  • Bottled water (store at least one gallon of water per person per day for three days. Try to store more if possible)
  • Non-perishable food (enough to last three days)
  • Dust mask – Depending on the emergency, you may need a mask to help protect against contaminated air.
  • Manual can opener – Your non-perishable food is likely made up of canned food. If you don’t have power, you need a way to open these cans.
  • Flashlight – Be sure to include extra batteries.
  • Whistle – A whistle can help you signal for help.
  • Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio – A radio will help you receive disaster updates and any other information.
  • First Aid Kit – Conditions during and after a disaster can vary dramatically. You may need to provide immediate care to an injured family member.
  • Essential pet care items – Your pet is a member of your family. You will want to have enough of their supplies for three days
  • Multi-purpose tool – This tool is good for a variety of situations.
  • Regional maps – If you need to evacuate and have no power or internet access, you may need to rely on a paper map to find your way to safety.
Other items to consider including in your go bag:
  • Communication plan copies
  • Duct Tape
  • Multi-Tool
  • Copies of important documents
  • Essential pet care items
  • Items for family members with special needs
  • Books. games, puzzles or other activities for children
  • Items to care for your infant or baby
  • Extra house and car keys
  • Blanket
  • Rain gear
  • Clothing
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Medication
  • Toiletries and hygiene items
  • Pen/pencil and paper


Keeping an emergency kit in your vehicle can ensure you have crucial supplies available if you become stranded while driving or are unable to return home due to a disaster.

Items to include in a vehicle emergency kit:
  • Cell phone car charger
  • Drinking water
  • Duct tape
  • Fire extinguisher
  • First aid kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Foam tire sealant
  • Jumper cables
  • Multipurpose utility tool
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Portable electric tire air pump
  • Rags
  • Rain poncho
  • Reflective warning triangles or roadside flares
  • Tire pressure gauge
  • Tow strap or tow rope
During colder weather months, include the following:
  • Blankets and extra warm clothing, hats, and gloves
  • Cat litter or sand to provide traction
  • Snow shovel
  • Windshield ice scraper
  • Winter boots


During an emergency, it’s important to have access to the things your pet needs to remain safe. Build a kit with your pet in mind, which should include many of the same items you would need for the human members of your family.

If local officials ask you to evacuate, that means your pet should evacuate too. If you leave your pets behind, they may end up lost, injured, or worse.

Pet kits should include the following:
  • Food. Keep several days’ supply of food in an airtight, waterproof container.
  • Water. Store a water bowl and several days’ supply of water.
  • Medicine. Keep an extra supply of the medicine your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container.
  • First aid kit. Talk to you veterinarian about what is most appropriate for your pet’s emergency medical needs.
  • Collar with ID tag and a harness or leash. Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag. Have copies of your pet’s registration information and other relevant documents in a waterproof container.
  • Traveling bag, crate, or sturdy carrier. Ideally one for each pet.
  • Grooming items. Pet shampoo, conditioner, and other items in case your pet needs cleaning.
  • Sanitation needs. Include pet litter and litter box, newspaper, paper towels, plastic trash bags, and household chlorine bleach.
  • Picture of you and your pet together. If you become separated from your pet, a picture will help document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet.
  • Familiar items. Put favorite toys, treats, or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can reduce pet stress.

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