What is a Disaster Checklist?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 21 September 2019
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Nobody wants a disaster to occur, but most disaster agencies recommend that people prepare for one. Following this recommendation may help people survive the initial aftermath of a disaster until such time as a government agency can begin providing help. To this end, a number of government agencies in many countries prepare disaster checklist forms for people to follow so they are duly prepared in an emergency.

A disaster checklist is a little different than a list of things a person might need in a terrible situation. Instead it is usually followed by several places for checkmarks, and disaster supplies could be purchased for the home, for a car and for an office, and then checked off. Some find it just as easy to go off a disaster list. Either one, when crafted by agencies in the government or by organizations like the Red Cross, will do. The important part is to obtain what is on these lists and keep supplies in the recommended places.

The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) breaks their disaster checklist down into some easy sections, which can make putting kits together a little easier. Another benefit is that the FEMA disaster checklist is easily accessed on the FEMA website, so people can download and print out a list copy. This can be helpful as people put together emergency preparedness kits.


The sections of the FEMA disaster checklist are First Aid, Prescription and Non-prescription Medications, Hygiene and Sanitation Supplies, Food and Water, Bedding and Clothes, Tools, and Documents and Keys. Each section recommends a variety of things. For instance, in Food and Water, recommendations on how much water to keep per person is suggested, and types of food such as easy to prepare canned or instant food are recommended. The document list is a very good idea, where copies of people’s driver’s licenses, social security cards, marriage licenses or birth certificates, deeds to property, and ownership of any stocks, bonds or bank accounts are kept in a suggested watertight place.

These lists are quite extensive, and anyone on a small budget might find it very difficult to obtain everything at once. If people need to follow a disaster checklist incrementally, they may perhaps want to start with purchasing the basics, like food and water and first aid supplies. Not everything needs to be purchased in other sections, though it’s nice if it can be. Having heat, light, a way to heat food, and a way to hear news or contact someone are all good plans. Though full possession of everything on a disaster checklist may be desirable, people might be able to forgo certain things, like deodorant, toys and games for kids and others.

The point of these lists, in addition to helping people prepare for potential serious disaster is to get people thinking about what they would need in an emergency. Again, no one really wants to think about such a scary thing occurring. Yet emergencies do occur and people may be better off if they are prepared to survive those first few days before help can arrive.


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Post 1

If you remember, a huge natural disaster happened in Aceh Indonesia in December 2004. There were many victims and now we already have recovered most of the infrastructure and community development, so what I am going to do is learn more about disaster management in one of the modern countries. Thanks. Jose. Former UNICEF Project Officer of Education in Aceh, Indonesia 2007-2009.

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