Emergency Kits: The Top 10 Items Every Household Should Have

Written by Monica Ivey.

Picture of emergency kit. Photo courtesy of FEMA.

Photo courtesy of FEMA.

September is National Preparedness Month, a time to prepare for crisis and natural disasters. Families, schools, communities and workplaces are urged to take action on National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, by participating in a simple yet specific activity that will increase preparedness for everyone. Suggestions include creating an emergency kit, hosting an emergency drill practice, having a group discussion on family and/or workplace emergency plans, and being informed about the different types of hazards that could occur in your community and the best actions to mitigate danger.

An emergency kit is essential to have for any situation that may pose a threat to accessing basic survival necessities. While your kit should be personalized to fit your own specific needs, there are 10 core items that are important to include:

1. WATER At a minimum, at least three gallons per person in the household. This averages to be a three-day supply but it is suggested to store enough bottled water to last up to two weeks.

2. NON-PERISHABLE FOOD Granola bars, nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter and jelly, crackers, canned/packaged tuna or chicken are protein-packed and nutritious. Include a manual can opener, paper plates, napkins and utensils with the food. Rotate non-perishables every three to six months.

3. FIRST AID KIT Plastic gloves, antibiotic ointment, bandages, wipes, scissors, aspirin, anti-diarrhea medication, and eye wash solution are key items to have.

4. MEDICATION Keep extra medication and medical supplies on hand.

5. FLASHLIGHTS Pack extra batteries and check the expiration dates periodically.

6. MATCHES Store in a waterproof container.

7. MONEY Keep cash or traveler’s checks in your kit in case evacuation is necessary.

8. EXTRA SET OF CLOTHING Consider switching clothing seasonally.

9. BATTERY POWERED RADIO with extra batteries.

10. HYGEINE ITEMS Soap, toothpaste, towels, deodorant, toilet paper etc.

If you have a baby or pet, make sure to include the necessary supplies for them as well.

FEMA graphic on preparing a pet emergency kit. Graphic courtesy of FEMA.

Graphic courtesy of FEMA.

Make preparation easy, fun and family oriented. Get the kids involved! A great activity for children is the Pillowcase Project, the creation of a mini emergency kit in a pillowcase, introduced by the American Red Cross to prepare children for disaster in an age appropriate manner. Include toys, puzzles and games in your kit for family recreation. A child friendly list and preparedness games are available on Ready.gov.

Build your kit gradually, put it in an easily accessible location in your home and ensure that everyone knows where it is. Ready.gov has more suggestions of items to include in your emergency kit as well as items to keep at work and in the car.

Join the Preparedness Community for National PrepareAthon! Day, September 30th, a National Day of Action, where schools, places of employment, faith-based and community organizations , colleges and universities are encouraged to host a specific activity, focusing on a specific hazard (earthquake, flood, wildfire, tornado, hurricane, winter storm) to have a tangible impact of increased preparedness for each individual. Go to www.ready.gov/prepare for more information.

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