Why Talk About a Disaster Supplies Kit?
After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the
scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in
hours, or it may take days. Basic services, such as electricity, gas,
water, and telephones, may be cut off, or you may have to evacuate at a
momentís notice. You probably wonít have time to shop or search for the
supplies youíll need. Your family will cope best by preparing for
disaster before it strikes.
What Is a Disaster Supplies Kit?
Assembling the supplies you might need following a disaster is an
important part of your Family Disaster Plan. Following a disaster,
having extra supplies at home or supplies to take with you in the event
of an evacuation can help your family endure evacuation or home
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Involve Children in Disaster Preparedness.
Ask children to help you remember to keep your kits in working order by
changing the food and water every six months and replacing batteries as
necessary. Children might make calendars or posters with the appropriate
dates marked on them. Ask children to think of items that they would
like to include in their own Disaster Supplies Kit, such as books or
games or appropriate nonperishable food items.
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Prepare Your Kit
Tips for Your Disaster Supplies Kit
Keep a smaller Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of each car.
If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having some items
will help you to be more comfortable until help arrives.
Keep items in airtight plastic bags. This will help
protect them from damage or spoiling.
Replace stored food and water every six months. Replacing
your food and water supplies will help ensure their freshness.
Rethink your kit and family needs at least once a year.
Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription
medications. It may be difficult to obtain prescription medications
during a disaster because stores may be closed or supplies may be
Use an easy-to-carry container for the supplies you would
most likely need for an evacuation. Label it clearly. Possible
- A large, covered trash container.
- A camping backpack.
- A duffel bag.
- A cargo container that will fit on the roof of your
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Disaster Supplies Kit Basics
The following items might be needed at home or for an evacuation.
Keeping them in an easy-to-carry backpack or duffel bag near your door
would be best in case you need to evacuate quickly, such as in a tsunami,
flash flood, or major chemical emergency. Store your kit in a convenient
place known to all family members. Kit basics are:
- A portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra
- Flashlight and extra batteries.
- First aid kit and first aid manual.
- Supply of prescription medications.
- Credit card and cash.
- Personal identification.
- An extra set of car keys.
- Matches in a waterproof container.
- Signal flare.
- Map of the area and phone numbers of places you could go.
- Special needs, for example, diapers or formula, prescription
medicines and copies of prescriptions, hearing aid batteries,
spare wheelchair battery, spare eyeglasses, or other physical
If you have additional space, consider adding some of the items from
your Evacuation Supplies Kit.
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Evacuation Supplies Kit
Place in an easy-to-carry container the supplies you would most likely
need if you were to be away from home for several days. Label the
container clearly. Remember to include:
To Build a Makeshift Toilet
Line a bucket with a garbage bag and make a toilet seat out of two
boards placed parallel to each other across the bucket. After each use,
pour a disinfectant such as bleach (1 part liquid chlorine bleach to 10
parts water) into the garbage bag. This will help avoid infection and
stop the spread of disease. Cover the bucket tightly when it is not in
Bury garbage and human waste to avoid the spread of disease by rats and
insects. Dispose of garbage and wastebury in a pit dug two to three feet deep and at least 50 feet downhill
or away from any well, spring, or water supply.
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Home Disaster Supplies Kit
In addition to your Disaster Supplies Kit basics and Evacuation Supplies
Kit, gathering the following items will help your family endure home
confinement, which often happens following disasters and may include the
loss of utilities.
Wrench to turn off household gas and water. Keep it near the
A weekís supply of food and water.
Additional blankets and sleeping bags.
Also, consider using a NOAA Weather Radio with the tone-alert feature in
your home. NOAA Weather Radio is the best means for receiving warnings
from the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service
continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can
be received by NOAA Weather Radios sold in many stores. NOAA Weather
Radio now broadcasts warning and postevent information for all types of
hazards--both natural (such as earthquakes and volcanic activity) and
technological (such as chemical releases or spills).
NOAA Weather Radio is an "all hazards"
radio network, making it the single source for the most comprehensive
weather and emergency information available to the public. Your National
Weather Service recommends purchasing a radio that has both a battery
backup and a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) feature, which
automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued for your
county, giving you immediate information about a life-threatening
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Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an
Store water in plastic containers, such as soft drink
plastic bottles. Seal containers tightly, label them and
store in a cool, dark place. Replace water every six months.
Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as
milk cartons or glass bottles.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water, or a minimum of
three gallons per person. It is strongly recommended to have
more if possible. Use one-half gallon per day for drinking, and
one-half gallon for cooking and sanitation. 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 your three-day supply in a handy place. You need to have
water packed and ready in case there is no time to fill water
bottles when disaster strikes.
Water needs to be treated only if it is of questionable
Boiling is the safest method of treating water.
Strain water through a clean cloth to remove bulk
impurities. Bring water to a rolling boil for about one
full minute, keeping in mind that some water will
evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. 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, color-safe 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 minutes. If it still does
not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source
of water. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water
treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that
do not contain 5.25 percent hypochlorite as the only
active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be
Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting
the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed
vapor will not include salt or other solid impurities. To
distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the
handle on the potís lid so that the cup will hang
rightside up when the lid is upside down (make sure the
cup is not touching the water) and boil the water for 20
minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup
Melt ice cubes or use water from undamaged hot water tanks,
toilet tanks (not the bowl - and only if the tanks does not contain an
automatic cleaning chemical), and water pipes if you need
If you need to find water outside of your home, you can
use rainwater; streams, rivers, and other moving bodies of
water; ponds and lakes; and natural springs. If you question
its purity, be sure to treat the water first. Avoid water with
floating material, an odor, or a dark color. Use saltwater only
if you distill it first. Do NOT drink flood water.
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Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food
supply for two weeks, you should consider preparing a supply that will
last that long. The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to
increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves. If
your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat
and protein, and donít stock salty foods, since they will make you
thirsty. Familiar foods can lift morale and give a feeling of security
in time of stress. Also, canned foods wonít require cooking, water, or
special preparation. Take into account your familyís unique needs and
tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high
in calories, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.
Pack at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and
water, and store it in a handy place. You need to have these
items packed and ready in case there is no time to gather food
from the kitchen when disaster strikes.
Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or
cooking, and little or no water. Foods that are compact and
lightweight are easy to store and carry.
If you must heat food, pack some type of portable cook stove and fuel.
Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and
canned food with high liquid content.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.
- Canned juice, milk, and soup (if powdered, store extra
- High-energy foods, such as peanut butter, jelly,
crackers, granola bars, and trail mix.
- Comfort foods, such as hard candy, sweetened cereals,
candy bars, and cookies.
- Instant coffee, tea bags.
- Foods for infants, elderly persons, or persons on
special diets, if necessary.
- Compressed food bars. They store well, are lightweight,
taste good, and are nutritious.
- Trail mix. Available prepackaged, or assemble your
- Dried foods. They can be nutritious and satisfying,
but contain a lot of salt, which promotes thirst.
- Freeze-dried foods. They are tasty and lightweight,
but will need water for reconstitution.
- Instant meals. Cups of noodles or cups of soup are a
good addition, although they need water for
- Snack-sized canned goods. Good because they generally
have pull-top lids or twist-open keys.
- Prepackaged beverages. Those in foil packets and
foil-lined boxes are suitable because they are tightly
sealed and will keep for a long time.
Food options to avoid:
- Commercially dehydrated foods. They can require a
great deal of water for reconstitution and extra effort
- Bottled foods. They are generally too heavy and
bulky, and break easily.
- Meal-sized canned foods. They are usually bulky and
- Whole grains, beans, pasta. Preparation could be
complicated under the circumstances of a disaster.
If your electricity goes off:
First, use perishable food and foods from the
Then, use the foods from the freezer. To
minimize the number of times you open the freezer door,
post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled,
well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have
ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to
eat) for at least three days.
Finally, begin to use nonperishable foods and
Remember to store nonperishable foods for your pets.
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First Aid Kit
Assemble a first aid kit for your Disaster Supplies Kit and one for
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- Keep the following original documents in a safe deposit box if
possible, and copies in a waterproof, fire-resistant portable
- Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds.
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records.
- Bank account numbers.
- Credit card account numbers and companies.
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone
- Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates).
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