Prepare for Disasters Before they Strike: Build A Disaster
There are six basics you should stock for your home in the
case of an emergency:
first aid supplies,
clothing and bedding,
tools and emergency supplies, and
special items for medical conditions.
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an
evacuation in an easy-to carry container. Below is a
comprehensive list of what should be included in your kit –
recommended items are marked with an asterisk(*).
Possible containers include a large, covered trash
container, a camping backpack or a duffle bag.
Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink
bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or
break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. 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.
Store one gallon of water per person per day.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person
(two quarts for drinking, two quarts for each person in
your household for food preparation/sanitation).*
Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or
cooking, and little or no water. If you must heat food, pack
a can of sterno. Select food items that are compact and
Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster
Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables
Staples (salt, sugar, pepper, spices, etc.)
High energy foods
Food for infants
First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
(20) adhesive bandages, various sizes.
(1) 5" x 9" sterile dressing.
(1) conforming roller gauze bandage.
(2) triangular bandages.
(2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads.
(2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads.
(1) roll 3" cohesive bandage.
(2) germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based
(6) antiseptic wipes.
(2) pair large medical grade non-latex gloves.
Adhesive tape, 2" width.
Scissors (small, personal).
CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield.
Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
Antacid (for stomach upset)
Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the
Activated charcoal (use if advised
Tools and Supplies
Mess kits, or paper cups, 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*
extinguisher: small canister
Matches in a waterproof container
Plastic storage containers
Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
Map of the area (for locating shelters)
Toilet paper, towelettes*
Soap, liquid detergent*
Personal hygiene items*
Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation
Plastic bucket with tight lid
Household chlorine bleach
Clothing and Bedding
*Include at least one complete change of clothing and
footwear per person.
Sturdy shoes or work boots*
Blankets or sleeping bags*
Hat and gloves
Remember family members with special requirements, such
as infants and elderly or disabled persons
Heart and high blood pressure medication
Contact lenses and supplies
Extra eye glasses
Entertainment (based on the ages of
Games (cards) and books
Portable music device
Important Family Documents
Keep these records in a waterproof, portable
Will, insurance policies, contracts deeds, stocks
Passports, social security cards, immunization
Bank account numbers
Credit card account numbers and companies
Inventory of valuable household goods, important
Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family
members. Keep a smaller version of the supplies kit in
the trunk of your car.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. Change your stored
water supply every six months so it stays fresh. Replace
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
Food and Water in an Emergency
If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm or other disaster
strikes your community, you might not have access to food,
water and electricity for days, or even weeks. By taking
some time now to store emergency food and water supplies,
you can provide for your entire family. This brochure was
developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in
cooperation with the American Red Cross and the U.S.
Department of Agriculture.
Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in
an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at
least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can
double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people
will need even more. You will also need water for food
preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one
gallon per person, per day. You should store at least a
two-week supply of water for each member of your family.
If supplies run low, never ration water. Drink the amount
you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can
minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing
activity and staying cool.
How to Store Water
Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass,
fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a
container that has held toxic substances. Plastic
containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can
also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.
Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a
cool, dark place. Rotate water every six months.
Emergency Outdoor Water Sources
If you need to find water outside your home, you can use
these sources. Be sure to treat the water according to the
instructions on page 3 before drinking it.
Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
Ponds and lakes
Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color.
Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should not
drink flood water.
Hidden Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean
water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes
and ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the
reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl).
Do you know the location of your incoming water valve?
You'll need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from
entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or
To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by
turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A
small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water
from the lowest faucet in the house.
To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the
electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom
of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the
water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not
turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.
Three Ways to Treat Water
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated
water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as
dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. You should treat all water
of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food
preparation or hygiene.
There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often
the best solution is a combination of methods.
Two easy treatment methods are outlined below. These
measures will kill most microbes but will not remove other
contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other
chemicals. Before treating, let any suspended particles
settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper
towel or clean cloth.
Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of treating water. Bring
water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind
that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into
it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean
containers. This will also improve the taste of stored
You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms.
Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25
percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches,
colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let
stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight
bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15
The only agent used to treat water should be household
liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water
treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do
not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only
active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be
While the two methods described above will kill most
microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes that
resist these methods, and heavy metals, salts and most other
Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the
vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will
not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a
pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's
lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is
upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the
water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that
drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
When Food Supplies Are Low
If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half
their usual food intake for an extended period and without
any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed
safely, except for children and pregnant women.
If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are
high in fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since
they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers,
whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid
You don't need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare
an emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry
mixes and other staples on your cupboard shelves. In fact,
familiar foods are important. They can lift morale and give
a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods
won't require cooking, water or special preparation.
Following are recommended short-term food storage plans.
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 high in calories and nutrition. Foods that
require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.
Individuals with special diets and allergies will need
particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and elderly
people. 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 nonperishable foods for your
Food Storage Tips
Keep food in a dry, cool spot - a dark area if possible.
Keep food covered at all times.
Open food boxes or cans care-fully 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
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
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
Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your
stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.
Shelf-life of Foods for Storage
Here are some general guidelines for rotating common
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
Hard candy and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely
(in proper containers and conditions):
Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
Noncarbonated soft drinks
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)