Introduction to Disaster Supplies

The best possible scenario in case of a disaster is that you have already prepared for it. It’s the nature of disasters that they may occur suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving little time to respond thoughtfully. Though it’s not pleasant to imagine a disaster occurring, taking the time to visualize some unpleasant situations in advance and making preparations to have the proper disaster supplies on hand, just in case they come to pass, may make any disaster that does occur much less problematic than it might have been otherwise.


Your disaster supplies should be assembled and placed near an entrance to your household, where you can easily grab them in passing if you need to leave quickly. They should be packed in a large holder, such as a duffel bag, which is itself placed in a waterproof container such as a large, clean, trash can. If you need to stay in your house, designating a safe room in advance and taking your disaster supplies there, as soon as the need is recognized, is the course of action to follow.


What should be in your disaster supplies?

fireman Food and Water and Service Items

The American Red Cross recommends including a three day supply of water for each household member, including pets, at a rate of one gallon (3.78 liters) per day, for drinking and sanitation.

Also include a three day supply of non-perishable food that requires little or no preparation (and no cooking) for each person (similar to a camping trip without the camp fire), as well as food for pets. Energy bars and electrolyte drinks may prove useful.

A supply of disposable plates and cups as well as utensils and trash bags with ties for waste are other essential items for your disaster supplies. Include a hand-operated (not electric) can opener, and a knife and some serving device (spoon or spatula) to assist in getting food out of cans.

Medical Supplies

Both a supply of prescription medicines and a first aid kit should be included. Extra eyewear (glasses are probably easier to deal with than contacts), hearing aid batteries, and other, similar needs should be prepared for.

Clothing and Bedding

A minimum of one complete change of clothing (more for infants) should be included. A second pair of footwear, preferably ones that will be comfortable and protective for a long walk and in bad weather, should be included, as well as appropriate weather protection such as long underwear, rain gear, gloves, and hat should be included for each person. For a young child, being able to be safely outside for a long time may mean an appropriate child carrying apparatus, such as a child carrying backpack.

Sleeping bags, sheets, blankets, and pillows are important. Cots or air mattresses may be useful as well. If air mattresses are chosen, add a pump to the list of supplies.

Emergency Information

The same emergency information that you customarily keep for your household should be included with your disaster supplies. Phone numbers, addresses, identification, insurance and health cards, blood types, and other essential information should be included. Adults should carry pictures of their children for identification purposes, should the members of the household become separated.

Other Disaster Supplies

Other useful supplies include:

Tools From a Basic Tool Kit:

  • flashlight and extra batteries
  • pliers
  • duct tape
  • wrench to shut off household utilities if necessary

Hygiene supplies:

  • toilet paper
  • sanitary napkins and/or tampons
  • plastic bags with closure
  • a waste bucket with a well-fitting lid
  • disinfectant
  • moist towelettes
  • diapers


  • local map
  • traveler’s checks, cash, and coins
  • writing utensils and paper
  • battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  • mp3 players
  • books/activities/toys, as appropriate for each person
  • comfort toy/blanket for each child
  • small sewing kit
  • fire extinguisher
  • signal flare
  • car, house, and garage keys
  • pet toys
  • walkie talkies to stay in touch with each other and extra batteries
  • any other small, personal items that will significantly increase comfort while not occupying much space or having much weight
  • a backpack for each person, in case you have to leave and carry as many supplies as possible with you.

Written by Mary Elizabeth

Related Home Institute Articles

  • First Aid Kit
  • Babysitter Instructions II
  • Emergency Information
  • Babysitter Instructions I
  • Introduction to Fire Extinguishers
  • Organizing a Car Trunk