What is a Disaster Kit?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 25 February 2020
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A disaster kit is a collection of supplies which are bundled together to be conveniently available in the event of an emergency. Disaster kits can be evacuated with their owners in the event of severe weather or a civil emergency, and they can also be used to shelter in place. Ideally, the supplies in a disaster kit should be enough to sustain a household for three days, and disaster kits should be regularly checked for expired items and restocked to ensure that the kit is up to date in an emergency.

Several companies sell disaster kits which are ready for use, and disaster-prone municipalities sometimes give out free emergency kits for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, and other common problems. It is also possible to assemble one's own. A disaster kit should be kept in waterproof tubs, which will ensure that the supplies inside cannot be damaged by flooding and bad weather, while making everything in the kit conveniently accessible. Some people like to keep a disaster kit in the car and one at home, so that they are prepared if they are unable to go home during an evacuation.


Disaster kits need several types of supplies: food, water, medical items, personal hygiene items, clothing, tools, and special items. Foods should be long-lasting canned, dried, or otherwise preserved goods, and it is important to pack supplies to access the food, such as can openers and cookstoves. There should be enough water in a disaster kit for everyone to have one gallon (3.8 liters) per day for three days, and medical items should include a first aid kit, along with specific medications needed by people in the household, and items for comfort like sunscreen and bug spray.

Personal hygiene items like toilet paper, feminine hygiene supplies, plastic bags, bleach for sanitation, soap, sanitation wipes, and diapers for babies are important, as are multiple changes of clothing, including footwear. A disaster kit should also include blankets and sleeping bags for sheltering, and a portable tent can also be useful. Tools like flashlights, radios, batteries, knives, and wrenches can be extremely useful, as can hand-cranked power sources in the event that batteries fail.

The special items in a disaster kit include things like copies of important documents, a ready supply of cash, supplies for pets, and entertainment material like books. It may also be useful to have special items which pertain to likely disasters such as earthquakes or hurricanes. When assembling the kit, it may help to record the things used around the house in normal circumstances over the course of a week or two, to take note of particular items which are used on a regular basis, so that they can be included in a disaster kit.


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