It pays to be prepared! You just never know when a natural disaster or state of emergency could take place. Your response will depend on the type of emergency going on: you might hunker down at home for several days (known as “sheltering in”) or you might be encouraged to evacuate your home for a safer area. These must-have emergency supplies for your family disaster kit will be immense help in one or both situations.
How to Build a Family Disaster Kit
- Food: Disaster relief organizations often recommend keeping at least 7 days worth of food (many preparedness experts recommend keeping 6 months worth of supplies in your home). Store the amount of nonperishable food you are comfortable with for your family. You may find our guide to preparing 30 days of emergency survival food for a family of 5 (we offer gluten-free options too) helpful.
- Water: Plan for 1 gallon per person per day.
- Blankets: Plenty of warm blankets or sleeping bags are essential whether at home or evacuating if you live in a cold area.
- Buckets: Buckets simply have a wide range of uses that make them great to have in the home. They can be used to move water in the event of a flood, to store food, or even as emergency toilets in the event utilities are cut off.
- Pet supplies: Keep enough food for your pet, as well as any medications or other supplies they might need during an emergency.
- Disposable hygiene items: Wet wipes, disposable diapers, and other hygiene items can be a real blessing if you are without a good source of water for awhile.
- Medical kit: A basic first aid kit should be a part of your emergency preps whether you plan to shelter in or evacuate. You can also follow our guide to build your own naturally safe and effective first aid kit.
- Flashlight: A small battery operated flashlight will work – it’s best if you can have one for each family member.
- Matches and a lighter: Have a way to start a fire if necessary for cooking or to stay warm.
- Solar + Battery-operated radio: This will help you get local alerts and weather information.
- Dust masks: If the air becomes dusty or contaminated, you'll have a little extra protection with masks for your family.
- Safety whistle: You can use it to signal family members or local emergency personnel.
- Extra cell phone battery: You may be unable to charge your phone at some point. We also keep a solar charger for cell phones in case of emergency.
- Local maps: Maps of the local area will be helpful if you evacuate and cell phones are down.
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape. You can use it to protect your home from smoke and chemicals, as wells as sectioning off areas of your home to stay warm.
- Disposable dishes: If you’re without water, you definitely won’t want to use your limited water storage to wash dishes.
- Activities for children: Children might be stressed or restless during an emergency situation, especially while traveling or sheltering, whether you’re at home or a local shelter. Simple games and activities can lift their spirits.
- Medications: Try to keep important medications for family members well-stocked, in the event that you’re unable to get them for several days.
- Bleach or a water filter bottle: Certain natural disasters like flooding or contamination can damage local water supplies. Have a plan for clean drinking water.
- Gas-powered camping stove: It may be the safest option you have for cooking if utilities are shut off or if you’re traveling.
What other supplies do you feel are necessary for your own family disaster kit?