Putting Together Your Emergency Supply Kit

If you search the Internet for information relating to supply kits, you will find a variety of checklists that suggest what to include in an emergency supply kit. The American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency both suggest that you keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Store these items in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or plastic storage boxes. If you need to evacuate, you will want to be able to take your supplies with you.

The New York City Office of Emergency Management suggests each household should assemble a Go Bag – a collection of items you may need in the event of an evacuation. This should be packed in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container. Your Go Bag should be easily accessible if you need to leave your home in a hurry.

The following checklist includes recommended items to include in your supply kit or Go Bag. You may want to add some extra items depending on your specific needs. It takes time and effort to prepare. Gather these items a little at a time, as your energy and budget allow. Think about these items and determine which are most important and relevant to you.

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Three-day supply of water- 1 gallon of water per person, per day
  • Portable, battery operated radio or television with extra batteries; hand crank radios are also available
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Kitchen utensils, including a manual can opener
  • A whistle (to notify people outside of your location)
  • Photocopies of credit cards and personal identification cards
  • Cash and coins
  • Copies of insurance policies and bank account numbers
  • Prescription medications and a list of current doses and schedule
  • Eye glasses and/or contact lens solutions
  • Hearing aid batteries
  • List of style and serial numbers of medical devices such as wheelchair or pacemaker
  • A change of clothing and footwear
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Paper, pens and/or pencils
  • Sanitation supplies (moist towelettes, toilet paper, waterless hand sanitizer)
  • Extra set of house keys and car keys
  • Emergency contact list and phone numbers. Make sure to include at least one out-of-state contact, too.

If you have a service animal, make plans to include items for him/her in your kit. Make sure your service animal has identification tags with both your home phone number and that of someone in your support network. You should put a copy of your animal's license and vaccination history in your kit. Other items specific to a service animal include:

  • Bowl for food and water
  • 3 day supply of food
  • Blanket for bedding
  • Plastic bags and paper towels for disposing of feces
  • Extra harness and/or leash
  • A favorite toy
  • Medications (if applicable)

Remember that pets, in contrast to service animals, are not allowed in most emergency shelters due to health regulations. Identify some animal shelters or kennels in advance for your pets. Your veterinarian or local chapter of the American Red Cross may be able to provide help with this.