Are You Ready?
Get Your Checklist: Emergency Preparedness Kit
Be healthy. Be informed. Be ready.
Just like having a working smoke detector in your home, maintaining a home emergency supply kit is the best way to prepare for a pandemic or other natural or man-made disaster. While there are many items in your household that you rely on every day, emergency kits should contain the basic essentials for each person of your family to survive, including fresh water, food and medical supplies (including prescriptions) for three days to two weeks. All items in the emergency kit should be periodically inventoried and replenished – typically every six months.
As you stock food, take into account your family's unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also nutritious. Look for foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people. Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils. And don't forget non-perishable foods and water for your pets. To prepare, pack at least 2,000 calories of food per adult per day. In addition, pack at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation in clean plastic containers.
Below is a general calculator to help you prepare your emergency preparedness kit based on an average adult (35 years old, 160 lbs., 5 ft. 10 inches, and less than 30 minutes per day of exercise), average child (8 years old. and less than 30 minutes per day of exercise), and average toddler (3 years old and less than 30 minutes per day exercise).
If you would like to calculate the specific daily food quantities that meet the individual needs of you and your family, please visit MyPyramid.gov.
Recommended Supplies to Include in a Basic 72-Hour Emergency Preparedness Kit Based on the Information Provided Above:
Food and Water
- Water — 1 gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food Suggestions — at least a three-day supply of familiar, nutritious, non-perishable food
- Ready-to-eat canned meats
- Canned fruits and vegetables
- Canned or boxed soups
- Canned or boxed juices
- Canned nuts
- Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices etc.)
- High-energy foods such as protein bars, calorie-packed snack bars and peanut butter
- Packaged non-perishable milk or soymilk, or powdered milk
- Comfort/stress foods (instant coffee/tea bags, etc.)
- Foods for persons on special diets
Tools and Other Items
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Whistle or signal flare to signal for help
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities; screwdriver
- Work gloves
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Small canister, A-B-C-type fire extinguisher
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Utility knife
- Local map
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Garbage bags and plastic ties
- Liquid detergent
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
- All-purpose knife
- Aluminum foil and plastic wrap
- Camping stove and cooking fuel
Sanitation and Hygiene
- Soap and/or liquid hand sanitizer
- Moist towelettes
- Toilet paper
- Tooth paste/brush
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- 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.
Clothing and Bedding
- Warm clothing (jacket or coat, long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, hat and gloves)
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Additional bedding
- Rain gear
- Prescription medications and eyeglasses
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, bank account records and family telephone numbers in a waterproof, portable container
- Cash or traveler's checks and change
- Paper and pen
- Books, games puzzles and other activities
First Aid Kit Essentials
- First aid manual
- First aid kit
- Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
- Antiseptic/Isopropyl alcohol/hydrogen peroxide
- Antibiotic ointment
- Cotton balls
- Scissors and tweezers
- Prescription Medications
- Non-prescription pain reliever
Food Storage Tips
- Keep food in a dry, cool spot — a dark area if possible.
- Keep food covered at all times using plastic or metal containers or plastic bags.
- Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use.
- Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight containers.
- Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
- Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.
- Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
During and right after a disaster, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:
- Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
- Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two quarts a day).
- Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
- Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.
Shelf-life of Foods for Storage
Use within six months:
- Powdered milk (boxed)
- Dried fruit (in metal container)
- Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
Use within one year:
- Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
- Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
- Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
- Peanut butter
- Hard candy and canned nuts
- Vitamin C
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
- Vegetable oils
- Dried corn
- Baking powder
- Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
- Noncarbonated soft drinks
- White rice
- Bouillon products
- Dry pasta
- Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)