Go to main content
Home Menu

Building an Emergency Kit


Emergency Kit

Below are tips for making an emergency kit for your home and your car. Much more information can be found on the internet, including specialized lists such as for child care providers, persons with disabilities or pet owners. If you cannot afford to make multiple kits, start by making a kit that you can use in both your car and at your home.

Prepare yourself for a minimum of 3 days, longer if possible. Experts now recommend everyone be prepared to survive on their own for a minimum of 7-10 days.

If possible, store items in a cool, dark location, but be sure to store your supplies in a place that will be accessible during most disasters. You can choose to keep all your supplies together in a large container, such as a garbage can with wheels.  If it’s more convenient, or if you don’t have room for a large container, try several smaller containers with like items stored together.

Remember to rotate your supplies to keep them fresh.  Children will out grow clothing, medications will expire, and some food items will become stale over time.

Store what you eat.  During a disaster is not a good time to try new menu items. Storing what you already use makes it much easier to rotate food items back to your pantry when they need to be eaten, and to restock with fresh items. You can also purchase small amounts of emergency meals for your family to try, and then decide if you like them enough to store them. Many camping and chain stores have freeze-dried and ready-to-eat meals, or you can make your own. The internet contains a wealth of information about how to make your own emergency food ranging from camping and backpacking items to ‘emergency rations.’

Start with what you already have.  If you’re a camper or backpacker, you’ve got a head start.  Your tent, cook stove and other gear can double as emergency supplies.

Start small:  Each time you go to the grocery store, Wal-mart, Costco or other stores, pick up something for your kit. Make a list of the supplies you need to purchase and then break it out over several months or a year. After you have stored enough food, water and supplies for 72 hours, start preparing for a week, then a month, then six months, then a year.


For Your Home

Types of items to include: 

Use canned foods for easy storage and long shelf life. Choose ready to eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables that your family likes.  Try to pick items that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.

Also recommended are canned or dried juice mixes, powdered or canned milk, high energy food (peanut butter, jelly, crackers, unsalted nuts and trail mix); cereals, pasta and rice.

Remember to eat at least one balanced meal each day. It is also a good idea to pack comfort foods such as candy, cookies or other special treats.
Store foods in a single or family meal-size package. During a disaster, you may not have a way to refrigerate leftovers.

Don’t forget your pets!  Store canned and dry pet food along with an extra collar and leash. Be sure to include food and water bowls.

Add a manual can opener, cooking and eating utensils, and basic food seasonings.

Store a three day supply of water for each family member and pet. One gallon per person per day is recommended for drinking, cooking and washing.  Write the date on the water containers and replace them as needed.

Learn how to remove water from your hot water heater in case you need it. This is a good reason your water heater should be strapped to your wall to ensure it doesn’t tip over during an earthquake!) Be sure to turn off the gas or electricity to the tank before draining off the water for emergency use.
Never drink water from a waterbed.  This water contains an algaecide that can make you sick.  Use this water for non-food purposes only such as washing clothes or general cleaning.

Purify water by boiling it for 10 minutes or by adding drops of household bleach containing 5.25% hypochlorite. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water.  Water purification tablets or a filter system such as those designed for campers and backpackers also work.

Other items: 
First aid kit
Battery-powered clock
Battery-powered radio
Extra batteries
List of insurance policy numbers
Trash bags
Copy of prescriptions
Extra eye glasses
Hearing aid batteries
Cooking stove with fuel
Cooking pots and pans
Heavy gloves
Duct tape
Sturdy shoes for each family member
Ax, shovel, broom
Pliers, wrench, pry bar
Fire extinguisher
Household bleach and medicine dropper
First aid kit
Dust masks
Plastic sheeting
Whistle to signal for help
Books, games and other activities
Cleaning supplies
Map of area (for identifying evacuation routes or shelter locations)
Diapers, baby formula
Vaccination records
Hygiene products
Warm set of clothes for each family member

For Your Car

In any season, it is a good practice to never let the gas tank of one’s vehicle get below half full. By always having at least a half full gas tank, you should be able to get at least 100 to 150 miles away without stopping if an emergency evacuation becomes necessary. Also, make sure that your vehicle remains in good mechanical condition. A mechanical failure threatens the safety not only the vehicle owner, but also of all the other people on the road behind who are behind a disabled vehicle.

Below is a list of items you may want to keep in your car in case of emergencies:

Bottled water
Bungee cords
Cell phone charger
Clothing (jacket, boots etc.)
Duct tape
Electrical repair kit (i.e. fuses, wire, tape etc.)
Emergency contact info
Fire Extinguisher
First Aid Kit
Flares or warning reflectors
Flashlight and headlamp –LED if possible because they last longer and take less energy
Folding shovel
Food/MREs/ High calorie-protein bars
Glow Sticks
Hand Cleaner
Hand Sanitizer
Hose clamps
Ice scraper
Insect repellant
Jumper cables
Light Sticks
Maps, local and topo
Paper towels
Pocket knife of multi-tool
Trash Bags
Quart of oil, brake and transmission fluid
Siphon and empty gas can
“Stop Leak” Tire Inflation
Tissues/toilet paper/wipes
Tool Kit
Tow Strap



Tsumani Warnings, Watches and Advisories

Tsumanai Warnings, Watches and Advisories


Creating an Emergency Plan

Emergency Plan Background


Create Your Emergency Plan in Just 3 Steps

1. With your family or household members, discuss how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play.

2. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and how you will work together as a team.

3. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible.


Document Your Plan with These Free Templates

Family Disaster Plan Template –

English Template Tips – English

Family Disaster Plan Template – Spanish

Template Tips – Spanish

Include Common Emergency Scenarios When You Plan

Plan for the emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live

  1. Be familiar with natural disaster risks in our community.
  2. Consider how you will respond to emergencies that can happen anywhere, such as home fires and floods.
  3. Consider how you will respond to risks that are unique to our region, such as tsunamis and earthquakes.
  4. Think about emergencies that may require you to shelter in place (such as a winter storm) or emergencies that may require evacuation (such as a tsunami).
  5. Consult with emergency resource libraries (liek this one from the American Red Cross, for tips on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from specific disasters.


Plan what to do in case you are separated during an emergency

1. Choose two places to meet up.

(Right outside your home for sudden emergencies, such as a fire and outside your neighborhood for emergencies where you need to evacuate).

2. Choose and out-of-area contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should carry emergency contact information in writing and saved on their cell phones. Make sure places where your children spend time also have these contact numbers, like at school or daycare.

3. Your plan should account for family members who may live elsewhere during the year, such as members of the military on deployment or students away at college, or those who travel frequently.


Plan to let loved ones know you are safe

Be sure to register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let your family and friends know you are safe.

Or, call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for "Disaster" to register yourself and your family.