Once disaster hits, you won’t have time to shop or search for supplies. But if you’ve gathered supplies in advance, your family can better cope with evacuation or with sheltering in your home. Packing a survival kit should take the same amount of time as packing for a one week vacation. Include a first aid kit and an emergency preparedness manual such as the American Red Cross First Aid book. You can purchase first aid and survival kits from the American Red Cross site at www.redcrossnca.org.

Place your survival kit in an easy-to-carry camping backpack, trash container or a duffle bag. A good place to store your kit is in the closet next to the front door. Tape an easy to read list of instructions near the kit for review from time to time. Remember to include cash, a credit card and an extra set of car keys.

Then, if disaster hits, you're ready to GRAB your kit and GO!


Here are six basics you would most likely need during an evacuation or if you take shelter at home.

All of these items can be purchased downstairs at the CVS or the Safeway. You probably have most of the items in your home right now. You may not need everything. Use the list to consider your particular needs.

Is this list too long? Yes!
This is a generic list of essentials covering all types of disasters. Adjust the list to your personal circumstances. For example, you may find that it it a better idea to include a credit card and not a tent in your kit.
You probably have all of the survival kit items in your home right now. All that remains for you to do is to put these aside. Then you will be assured that you have sufficient supplies should an emergency arise.


Store water in plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. In the summer and during intense physical activity double that amount may be needed. Store 1 gallon of water per person per day (2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation. Keep at least a 3-day supply of water for each person in the household.


Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food for each person. Select foods that don't need refrigeration or cooking and little or no water. Select compact, lightweight items.

  • Dry cereal
  • Peanut butter
  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables
  • Canned juice
  • Quick energy snacks, graham crackers, instant coffee & tea
  • Ready-to-eat soups (not concentrated)
  • For infants: formula, powdered milk, bottles and diapers.
  • Foods for elderly persons or persons on special diets

First Aid Supplies

Make a first aid kit for your home and for your car. Kit items:

  • A first aid manual
  • Needles and thread
  • medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)
  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pair)
  • Sunscreen
You can buy First Aid and Disaster Survival Starter Kits from the National Capital Area American Red Cross online store at:


Or, contact our local DC chapter at: 202/303-4509.

Kit Disaster Starter Kit -- $52

(2 person).Family Kit -- $20.

First Aid Manual -- $6



Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses
  • Infant MedicationNon-Prescription Drugs
  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac to induce vomiting if advised
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal if advised by the Poison Control Ctr

Clothing and Bedding

Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear.

  • Hat and gloves
  • Thermal underwear
  • Sunglasses
  • Sturdy shoes or work boots
  • Rain gear
  • Two blankets or one sleeping bag per person.

To avoid breathing infected air, have 2 or 3 layers of cotton t-shirts, hankies or towels to cover your mouth and nose.


  • Toilet paper, paper towels, towelettes
  • Soap, liquid detergent
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items  
  • Plastic bucket, garbage bags, ties for sanitation
  • 5-gallon plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach


  • Mess kits or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler’s checks, change
  • Non-electric can opener, utility knife 
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Heavy cotton or hemp rope
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver, hammer
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Tape, duct and plumber's tape or strap iron
  • Compass, Whistle
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Crowbar
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)

Important Documents

Keep records or copies in a waterproof, portable container.

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks, bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
  • Bank account numbers
  • Important Telephone Numbers
  • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Inventory valuable house goods, vital phone numbers
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

For Pet

  • Food
  • Leash, harness or carrier
  • Records of vaccinations
  • Non-tippable food and water containers
  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members.
  • Tape your communication plan and other information in the same place. The closet near your front door is a good place.
  • Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car.

Then, if disaster hits, you're ready to GRAB your kit and GO!