Emergency Kit

One of the most important ways to prepare for an emergency is to create a personal, 72-hour emergency kit. This kit should be customized to you and your family’s personal needs, and should contain supplies that will carry you for 3 full days. Your kit should be checked and updated every 6 months. Expired food should be replaced, as well as dead batteries, damaged items, clothing that no longer fits, etc. Your kit should be stored in a cool, dry place, in a waterproof container.

The seven types of recommended items for your kit include:

  • Water
  • Food
  • First Aid
  • Clothing/Bedding
  • Family Supplies/Tools
  • Personal Items
  • Documents/Money


One gallon of water per person per day is the minimum needed (pregnant/nursing mothers will need more).
Store-bought bottled water can stay drinkable for up to 6 months. After 6 months, it should be rotated out.
Water can be stored in old bleach bottles, but rotated every 7-9 months. The residue left from the bleach is enough to disinfect the water, so don’t wash out the bottles.
To Purify Water

Boil for 10 minutes. After cooling, pour back-and-forth in containers to aerate, which will improve flavor.
To chlorinate water, add 4 drops of bleach (it should contain 5.25% Sodium Hypochlorite), mix and then let stand for 30 minutes. You should be able to smell/taste chlorine.



Food suggestions include: granola, canned soup, jerky, trail mix, cereal, crackers, juice and canned food such as tuna, fruit cocktail, etc. Although this is an emergency kit, and should not contain unneeded items, it’s a good idea to pack some “comfort” foods.

Foodstuffs should be non-perishable, high in protein, not past or near the expiration date and require little-to-no preparation. The simpler, the better.

Remember to pack appropriate food for someone who has a special diet (infants, young children, seniors, etc.)

Don’t forget about pet supplies and a can opener!


First Aid

When buying or putting together a first aid kit, it’s important to remember how many people you will be staying with, as this will determine your needs.

A basic kit typically includes: gauze pads, gauze bandages, adhesive tape, gloves (watch out for latex allergies), Bactine or other disinfectant, tweezers, scissors and instant cold packs.

Recommended items to add to your kit include: non-prescription drugs (ibuprofen, aspirin, antacid, cough syrup, etc.), prescription medicines, thermometer, needle and thread, hydrocortisone cream, eye drops and safety pins.



At a minimum, everyone should have a complete change of clothing and footwear.
In addition, the following is recommended:

  • Long/short sleeve shirts, pants, socks, jacket, etc.
  • Rain gear
  • Hat/gloves/scarf (depending on season)
  • Undergarments
  • Extra blankets/sleeping bags
  • Cloth sheet
  • Plastic sheet


Family Supplies and Tools

Below is just a brief sample of what you may want to include:

  • Waterproof matches
  • Flares
  • 2-plate gas burner and gas
  • Frying pan
  • Flashlight and spare batteries
  • NOAA radio
  • Small axe
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Garbage bags
  • Plastic bags w/ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Rope
  • Duct tape
  • Whistle


Personal Items

Personal items provide a sense of comfort and well-being, and will maintain morale in a time of emergency. Other items, such as prescription medicine and hygiene products, will help keep illness at bay.

  • Prescription medicine
  • Soap and alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Shaving items and mirror
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Shampoo
  • Mouthwash
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Diapers/other infant needs
  • Stress management items (books, board games, personal electronics, etc.)


Documents and Money

Everything should be stored in a watertight container:

  • Drivers’ License
  • Passport
  • Will
  • Insurance policies
  • Cash
  • Credit card
  • Change for pay phone


Special note about preparedness for pandemic influenza:

Pandemic influenza (flu) occurs when a flu virus changes to a form that spreads and kills more quickly than a normal, seasonal flu outbreak. Because so many people may be sick during a flu pandemic, normal supplies and services may be difficult to obtain. The MIT Influenza Information website is a good resource for information about staying healthy during a normal flu season as well as the Institute’s response plan in the event of an influenza pandemic.


Information Provided by MIT