Home Emergency Supply Kit

Medical Author: Melissa Conrad Stoppler, MD
Medical Editor: William C. Shiel, Jr, MD, FACP, FACR

In the wake of natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods, many people question their own degree of preparedness for such an event. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends having a disaster supply kit that contains enough materials for sustenance for at least three days should a disaster strike in your area. Particularly if you live in an at-risk area - or even if you experience frequent losses of electrical power - you may want to assemble an emergency supply kit for your household.

Print the following list out and begin putting your Home Emergency Supply Kit together now.

When stocking your emergency supply kit, be sure to include:

Water for the entire household for at least three days. One gallon of water per person per day is a standard recommendation for drinking plus sanitation needs. Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles that will not decompose or break. 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.

A three-day supply of food. Choose foods such as dried and canned foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water to prepare. Don't forget to include eating utensils and a can opener. The following foods may be useful:

  • ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables;
  • canned juices, milk, energy drinks (Gatorade), soup (if powdered, store extra water);
  • staples such as sugar, salt, pepper;
  • high energy foods such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix;
  • foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets;
  • comfort/stress foods such as cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, and tea bags.

Flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and batteries. These are preferable to candles and torches to reduce the risk of fire.

Prescription medications and any medical supplies (such as blood glucose testing devices) that you or anyone in your group may require. It may also be helpful to have some non-prescription medications available, including a pain reliever/fever reducer, antihistamines, antidiarrheal medications, and antacids.

First aid supplies. First aid and health care supplies should include:

  • a digital thermometer;
  • sterile latex gloves;
  • cleansing towelettes;
  • hand sanitizer;
  • sterile dressings and bandages in a variety of sizes;
  • scissors and tweezers;
  • antibiotic and burn ointments to prevent wound infection; and
  • eye wash solution.

Sanitation supplies. Having a three-day supply of the following will be useful:

  • toilet paper, towelettes;
  • soap, liquid detergent;
  • feminine supplies;
  • personal hygiene items (toothbrushes, toothpaste, etc.);
  • plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses);
  • plastic bucket with tight lid;
  • disinfectant; and
  • household chlorine bleach.

Reference: U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Ready America Web site, 2005. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "What You Need to Know When the Power Goes Out Unexpectedly," 2004.


Last Editorial Review: 9/23/2009