Are You Prepared for an Emergency?

What Goes in Your Emergency Kit

Gather enough supplies to get your family through three days.

Emergency kit

Lucas Zarebinksi

  • Water. Be sure to have 3 gallons per person and per animal in your home. For example, for my family (Mom, Dad, two boys, and dog) we have 15 gallons. If you're breastfeeding you'll need more for hydration.
  • Food. Buy canned, mostly high-calorie foods. Good choices are chili, tuna, veggies, and soup, as well as peanut butter, crackers, granola bars, cereal bars, and comfort foods like chocolate or candy. Buy foods with similar expiration dates to make it easier to refresh your kit. You'll also want powdered formula for babies and boxed milk for toddlers, and food for your pet.
  • A "refresh" card that lists the contents of your kit and the dates that medication and perishables will expire
  • First-aid kit. Standard kits usually cost around $25. You may need to add a couple pairs of gloves, and gauze, tape, and antibiotic ointment. First-aid kits typically don't include over-the-counter medications, especially for children.
  • Respirator/surgical masks to reduce exposure to airborne particles ($16 for 20;
  • Diapers and wipes. Refresh your diaper size!
  • Clothing. Have one complete outfit for each person, including sturdy shoes, a hat, and gloves. Remember to change this out as your kids grow. Put that on your refresh card.
  • Children's acetaminophen and a card with your infant or young child's current dose (often the bottle doesn't include it for kids under age 2). After each well visit, update your card with your child's new dosing info.
  • Medication. Get a seven-day supply of any prescription you or your child is taking. If your child is on an important daily med, ask your doctor for a one-week-supply prescription to fill for your kit. Add the expiration date of meds to your refresh card.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
  • Manual can opener. What good is the food if you can't get to it?
  • Waterproof matches
  • Fire extinguisher
  • One large flashlight for each adult; one small flashlight for each child able to work it
  • Batteries. Have enough for flashlights and a radio. Include a full set of replacements.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Utility knife
  • 12-inch adjustable wrench for turning off your gas line
  • Whistles with lanyards so you can find each other in the dark
  • A corded phone, which will still work when power is down. (Check Target or Wal-Mart.)
  • Cash
  • Chlorine bleach as a cleaner and sanitizer
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tampons/pads
  • Garbage bags
  • Blankets. Have one for each person.
  • Duct tape and plastic sheeting to keep out airborne chemicals. The tape should be at least 10 mil thick; the sheeting, at least 4 mil.
  • Documents. Fill a waterproof bag with one copy of important documents including passports, bank-account and credit-card numbers, birth certificates, Social Security cards, and wills. You'll want to protect them or take them with you if evacuation is necessary. You might add family memorabilia, such as irreplaceable photos.
  • Fun stuff. Comfort your family or pass the time with a deck of cards, coloring books, stuffed animals, and puzzles or board games.

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