FEMA calls them emergency supply kits; they’re also referred to as go-bags. Either way, the concept is the same: In case of emergency ​— ​which could include utility outages, communication disruptions, sheltering in place, or evacuations ​— ​it’s important to have a cache of water, food, clothing, and related supplies assembled and easy to access. Because there will be delays in service, plan to be on your own for at least 72 hours. Duffels, milk crates, and plastic tubs with lids all work well as go-bags.


• Make sure your go-bags are personalized. You can purchase them fully stocked or build your own. Either way, it’s important to have essential and personal supplies geared toward the health, safety, and comfort of you and your family.

• If you have to leave your home in a hurry and don’t have time to pack clothing, grab your dirty clothes basket ​— ​it’s filled with favorite clothes that fit.

• Keep the gas tank in your vehicle at least half full at all times.

• Have a go-bag for home, work, and, in case you get stranded on the road during a disaster, in your vehicle.

• Maintain your go-bag by reviewing it twice a year, usually when you change the batteries in your home clocks and smoke detectors. Replace expired items as needed and update the bag with different items as your family’s needs change. Keep canned food in a cool, dry place and store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.


  • Tent
  • Rope
  • Sleeping bags or warm blankets
  • Emergency blanket
  • Tarp and duct tape
  • Camp stove and fuel


  • Contact info for emergency services, family, and friends; include an out-of-state and out-of-area contact
  • Copies of important family documents, such as insurance policies, passports, and other identification, in a sealed plastic baggie; you can also scan your important documents and put them on an encrypted flash drive
  • Cash (small bills), coins, and travelers checks
  • Books, games, pens, and paper


  • Dust mask
  • Work gloves
  • Wrench or pair of pliers
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Utility knife
  • Matches in waterproof container


  • First aid kit, with nonprescription pain reliever and Benadryl
  • Sunblock and bug protection
  • Extra prescription eyewear, prescription medication, and a copy of any written prescriptions


  • Battery-powered and/or hand-crank radio, with extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Phone charger
  • Local roadmaps
  • Whistle (if you need to signal for help)
  • Set of house and car keys

Food & Water

  • One gallon of water per person per day
  • Three-day supply of nonperishable food and a manual can opener
  • Mess kit, kitchen items, disposable plates, cups, and utensils
  • Plain household bleach and a dropper to disinfect water
  • Water purification tablets


  • Towels
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, and moist towelettes
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties
  • Extra diapers, infant food, and formula (if necessary)
  • Feminine hygiene items
  • At least one change of clothing and hard-soled shoes


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