Gather Supplies

Gather Supplies

Try to think of emergency preparedness as a culture.  This includes habits like keeping you gas tank at least half full, always having cash in case and electrical outage prevents credit card use, and having external batteries charged for cell phones. 

Assemble a kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.

You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours or it might take days.

Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.

Think about what makes your family unique, and try to ensure you are prepared to meet those unique needs in case of an emergency or evacuation.  Unique needs could include access or functional needs, infants, elderly family members, or special medical needs. 

For a downloadable emergency checklist, visit our Helpful Resources section.


  • One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
  • Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.
  • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary.
  • Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.


  • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.
  • Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.
  • Choose foods your family will eat:
    • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
    • Protein or fruit bars
    • Dry cereal or granola
    • Peanut butter
    • Dried fruit
    • Nuts
    • Crackers
    • Canned juices
    • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
    • High energy foods
    • Vitamins
    • Food for infants
    • Comfort/stress foods

Additional recommended supplies to include in a portable kit:

  • Cash or paper money
  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help    
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

In any emergency a family member or you yourself may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt.

Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate medical attention. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. Consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.

Things you should have:

  • Two pairs of Latex, or other sterile gloves (if you are allergic to Latex).
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding.
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect.
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes.
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant.
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.

Non-prescription drugs:

  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for upset stomach)
  • Laxative

Remember the special needs of your family members. Infants, the elderly and persons with disabilities need the same planning as everyone else, and sometimes a little more, to be prepared for a terrorist attack.

For baby

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications
  • Moist towelettes
  • Diaper rash ointment

For adults

  • Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

For seniors

  • Plan how you will evacuate or signal for help.
  • Plan emergency procedures with home health care agencies or workers.
  • Tell others where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Teach others how to operate necessary equipment.
  • Label equipment like wheelchairs, canes or walkers.

Additional supplies for seniors

  • List of prescription medications including dosage in your supply kits. Include any allergies.
  • Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries or other special equipment in your supply kit.
  • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers in your emergency supply kits.
  • Copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards.
  • List of doctors and emergency contacts.

For People with Disabilities

  • Create a support network to help in an emergency.
  • Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies.
  • Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
  • Contact your city or county government's emergency information management office. Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency.
  • Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
  • If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
  • Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
  • Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.

People who are deaf or hearing impaired

he following tips* will assist people who are deaf or hearing impaired to be prepared when disasters strike:

Hearing aids

  • Store hearing aid(s) in a strategic, consistent and secured location so they can be found and used after a disaster. For example, consider storing them in a container by your bedside, which is attached to a nightstand or bedpost using a string or Velcro. Missing or damaged hearing aids will be difficult to replace or fix immediately after a major disaster.


  • Store extra batteries for hearing aids and implants. If available, store an extra hearing aid with your emergency supplies.
  • Maintain TTY batteries. Consult your manual for information.
  • Store extra batteries for your TTY and light phone signaler. Check the owner’s manual for proper battery maintenance.


  • Determine how you will communicate with emergency personnel if there is no interpreter or if you don’t have your hearing aids. Store paper and pens for this purpose.
  • Consider carrying a pre-printed copy of important messages with you, such as: "I speak American Sign Language (ASL) and need an ASL interpreter," "I do not write or read English," and "If you make announcements, I will need to have them written or signed."
  • If possible, obtain a battery-operated television that has a decoder chip for access to signed or captioned emergency reports.
  • Determine which broadcasting systems will be accessible in terms of continuous news that will be captioned and/or signed. Advocate so that television stations have a plan to secure emergency interpreters for on-camera emergency duty.


  • Install both audible alarms and visual smoke alarms. At least one should be battery operated.


  • Recruit interpreters to be Red Cross emergency volunteers.
  • Maintain advocacy for TV stations to broadcast all news and emergency information in open caption format.
  • Ensure hotels have access packets for the deaf and hearing-impaired persons, including visual alarms, when you travel. Ask for them when you check in.
Additional Supplies for People with Disabilities
  • Prescription medicines, list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies.
  • Extra eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries and cane.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen.
  • Scooter or wheelchair patch kit, extra inner tubes and other repair supplies. Also include heavy gloves for wheeling over glass and debris.
  • Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices.
  • Medical insurance and Medicare cards.
  • List of doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.

Other items to consider

  • Pads and pencils for communication and/or to keep track of instructions you may receive
  • Power converter for communicating with a lap top computer
  • Animal supplies

Transportation Needs for the Disabled

Links to special needs organizations

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