An emergency go kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. It should be easily portable, refreshed regularly, and take into consideration the needs of everyone who may shelter or evacuate with you during an emergency. Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire emergency go kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as a plastic bin, camping backpack or duffel bag.
Before buying items for your go kit, check around your house to see what you already have. You may have to evacuate or shelter in place at a moment’s notice and may not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them. Plan to have your own food, water and other supplies in enough quantity to last for at least 72 hours.
Prepare Multiple Go Kits
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and vehicles.
- Your home emergency go kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least three days.
- Keep this go kit in a designated place and make sure all family members know where the go kit is kept.
- Additionally, you may want to consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.
- You need to be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Make sure you have food and water and other necessities like medicines in your go kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances.
- Your work go kit should also be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace.
In case you are stranded, keep an emergency go kit in your car. Refresh this go kit as the seasons change. This go kit should include:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit and necessary medications in case you are away from home for a prolonged time
- Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
- Water for each person and pet in your car
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
- Ice scraper
- Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Fully-charged cell phone and phone charger
- Flares or reflective triangle
- Necessary items to meet the needs of all those who may travel in your vehicle, including pets and infants
- Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full and if you find yourself stranded, be safe and stay in your car, put on your flashers, call for help and wait until it arrives.
Maintain Your Go Kits
Just as important as putting your supplies together is maintaining them so they are safe to use when needed. Here are some tips to keep your supplies ready and in good condition:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
- Throw out any canned good that becomes swollen, dented or corroded.
- Use foods before they go bad and replace them with “fresh” supplies.
- Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
- Change stored food and water supplies every six months. Be sure to write the date you store it on all containers.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
- Allow for 1 gallon of water, per person, per day for drinking and personal care. If you have pets, include their water needs in your estimates.
- Keep at least a 3-day supply of water per person.
- Children, nursing mothers, and sick individuals may need more water.
- People in warm weather areas need more water.
- If you know an emergency is imminent and you have time, fill as many containers as you can with water, including bathtubs.
- As a last resort, the water contained in your water heater can be filtered through several layers of cotton (a tee-shirt will do the trick) and used.
- Store at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Choose foods that do not require refrigeration, preparation, and cook with little or no water.
- Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils, like forks, knives, and spoons.
- Try to avoid salty foods as this will increase your thirst.
- Take into consideration the needs of people with dietary restrictions and allergies, infants, toddlers and the elderly.
- 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
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High-energy foods
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods
Plan for the Needs of Your Family
Think about family members with allergy or supply needs. Here are some ideas to consider:
- Formula, if applicable
- Spare breast pump parts and a car adapter, if applicable
- Manual breast pump, if applicable
- Baby Wipes
- Diaper Rash Ointment
- Vaccination Records
- Label any equipment (wheelchairs, canes and walkers) with your name and contact information.
- Make a list of prescription medications including your dosage and any allergies.
- Pack an extra pair of eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries, if applicable
- Have extra special equipment (like wheelchair batteries, etc.) in your kit.
- Make a list of serial numbers for any medical devices for your kit.
- Make copies of all medical insurance and Medicare cards.
- Keep a list of doctors and emergency contacts.