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Items to Include in your Emergency Kit

When preparing for an emergency, creating an emergency kit or “go bag” is one of the most valuable things you can do. Get your go bag ready with our checklists.

When preparing for an emergency, creating an emergency kit or “go bag” is one of the most valuable things you can do. It’s next to impossible to predict whether you’ll need to evacuate or know where you’ll find yourself when some disasters hit, which is why some experts recommend making at least three kits and storing them in areas you spend the most time. You should have emergency kits in the following locations:

  • Home: At home, you should have two kits—one for waiting out the disaster, and one evacuation/go-bag.
  • Work or School: Should disaster strike during work or school hours, having a small kit in your (or your child’s) backpack, locker, or desk with supplies to last you  24-48 hours—until you can safely get home or be evacuated—can prove invaluable.
  • Vehicle (if you have one): If you’re stranded in your car during a storm, you’ll need supplies until you can be rescued. Alternately, if you’re out and about when you get the alert to evacuate, being able to leave immediately puts you at an advantage.

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Here's everything else you need to know about how to make an emergency kit, including what should be in each kit listed above.

Emergency Preparedness Kit Lists

Aside from essentials, what should be in an emergency kit depends on your personal needs, location and local climate, and the disasters you are likely to experience. Start with these basic items, and evaluate the following emergency preparedness kit lists with your individual needs in mind, removing and adding items wherever necessary.

Home Disaster Kit

Keep your home emergency kit in the space you are most likely to take shelter in the event of a disaster, and ensure that each member of your family or household knows where it is located. Include these items:

  • Water - one gallon of water per person per day, for a minimum of three days, plus an additional two litres per person for cooking and cleaning. The Red Cross recommends stocking up on water for a minimum of two weeks for home kits.
You may also wish to include household chlorine bleach and an eye dropper or water-purification tablets to purify water in the event of contamination.
  • Food - minimum three-day supply of non-perishable food. Again, the Red Cross recommends stocking up on two weeks worth of food for home kits.
  • Multi-purpose tool, manual can opener for food, eating utensils, cups and bowls
  • First aid kit (see top right)
  • Toilet paper
  • Towels
  • Garbage bags, plastic sheeting, and duct tape in case you need to shelter in place.
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio (specifically, look for the NOAA Weather Radio.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Emergency whistle
  • Clothes - at least one climate- and seasonally-appropriate change of clothes and a pair of comfortable shoes.
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)

In addition to standard first aid kit items, include:

  • At least a week’s supply of prescription medications
  • Assistive items or devices, components, and backups (additional battery packs, hearing aids, glasses, contact lenses and solution, etc.)
  • Personal hygiene and sanitation items
  • Scissors

Important personal documents to include:

  • Medication list and necessary medical documents
  • Passports
  • Birth certificates
  • Proof of address
  • Deed/lease to home
  • Insurance policies
  • Cash, including change
  • Copies of emergency plan, emergency contact information, and important personal documents (see bottom right)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone, solar charger, and backup battery (old cell phones that are still compatible with current cellular networks can be used to make 911 phone calls, even without a phone plan)

PRO TIP: Emergency kits are best stored in waterproof containers to keep their contents safe in the event of flooding. If a large waterproof container can’t be easily acquired, store important paperwork and other water-damage susceptible items in sealable plastic bags or smaller containers.

Additional items to consider:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Basic set of tools (hammer, screwdrivers, work gloves, pocket knife)

If you have seniors or elderly family:

  • Extra eyeglasses
  • Extra batteries for medical supplies like hearing aids or blood sugar monitors
  • Blankets
  • Medications and supplies for medical devices like blood sugar monitors—at least a 7 day supply, ideally more
  • Record of medical conditions, allergies, and current medications, stored in a waterproof container
  • Duplicates of important documents such as passports, drivers licenses, social security cards, wills, deeds, financial statements, and insurance information, stored in a waterproof bag or container

If you have children:

  • Prescription medications
  • Bottles
  • Formula and/or baby food
  • Diapers
  • Clothing
  • Baby wipes
  • Toys, games, books, crafts, and activity items that don’t require electricity to keep them entertained
  • Small items to comfort your kids, such as a favorite toy

If you have pets:

  • Collar, leash, and/or carrier
  • Identification
  • Food
  • Water
  • Medications
  • Cat litter, pee pads, and any other sanitary or waste clean-up items
  • Seasonal apparel they might need (winter boots, coats)

PRO TIP: It’s always a good idea to get your pets microchipped. They can easily get lost in the chaos of an evacuation and animal shelters can quickly get overwhelmed during a natural disaster, making it difficult to track them down. Get more tips for preparing your pets.

Print my Home Disaster Kit Checklist

Evacuation Kit/Emergency Go Bag

Evacuation orders may not leave you with much notice to get together everything you need. Having a go-bag ready can save you precious time getting out the door. Include these items in your evacuation kit:

  • Water - the same rules apply: one gallon per person per day, for a minimum of three days. Alternately, if you are unable to carry that much water with you, you can opt to include a portable filtration system in your kit, such as a LifeStraw or water purification tablets.
  • Food - minimum three day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Multi-purpose tool, manual can opener for food, eating utensils, non-breakable cups and bowls
  • Small first aid kit
  • Prescription medications
  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Candles and matches or lighter
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra keys for your car and house
  • Seasonally appropriate change of clothes (winter coat, rain gear, etc)
  • Cash
  • Personal documents in a waterproof container

If you have seniors or elderly loved ones to care for, their evacuation go-bag will look a little different than yours.

Print my Evacuation Kit Checklist

Car Emergency Kit

In the event that your car gets stuck in a storm or you’re too far away from home to return for your evacuation bag, it’s a good idea to have an emergency kit in your vehicle. Your car emergency kit should include:

  • First aid kit and seatbelt cutter (kept in the glove box)
  • Packaged, non-perishable food that won't spoil in the heat (three days supply)
  • Water - minimum three days supply, in plastic bottles so they won't break if frozen. To save on gas, consider keeping the water in an easily accessible location and adding it only when there is a storm warning in place. Alternatively, you can keep a small portable filtration system in your kit.
  • Blanket or sleeping bag
  • Change of seasonally-appropriate clothing, including rain gear, extra coats, mittens, scarves, and hats, and shoes or boots
  • Small shovel, scraper, and snowbrush
  • Candle in a deep can and matches
  • Wind-up flashlight and radio
  • Emergency whistle
  • Roadmaps
  • Copies of your emergency plan
  • Sand, road salt, or non-clumping cat litter
  • Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Small fire extinguisher
  • Warning light or road flares
  • Manual can opener

Emergency Kits for Work or School

Your employer or your kids’ school will very likely have their own supplies and emergency plan in place, so try not to waste space by carrying duplicates of items you’ll have access to. Ask if you can access their emergency plan or if they are able to provide you with details, and base your kit around that. Here are some additional items you should include:

  • Toiletries and personal hygiene items
  • Contact lenses and solution, glasses, and other assistive devices
  • Umbrella or rain gear

Print my Work or School Emergency Kit Checklist

Disaster Kit Maintenance

After creating a disaster kit, it’s important to keep it well-stocked so it is effective during an emergency. Every six months, you should:

  • Take your kits out and take stock of what items you’re running low on and which need to be replaced.
  • Change out the water, especially in cars.
  • Check expiration dates and use up food that is nearing its date.

More Emergency Preparedness Resources