Things to have on hand in case of emergency

Last updated: January 1

In the event of an emergency, do you know which items you'd need the most? You may find yourself either staying at home or evacuated to a different location, and it's important to know what items you should have on hand. Experts suggest gathering certain essentials ahead of time, and Ready.gov recommends using a portable container, such as a duffel bag or plastic bin, to hold the contents of your emergency kit in case you need to carry it out of your home.

From food to first aid supplies, here are some of the items you may want to pack in your emergency kit:

get a personalized insurance quote today

A great rate is just a few clicks away.

Water

The American Red Cross recommends storing at least one gallon of water per person, per day. It's a good idea to have at least a three-day supply for an evacuation and a two-week supply for your home. The water may be needed for drinking as well as sanitation, according to Ready.gov.

Food

Keep enough nonperishable food for at least three days in your kit, says Ready.gov. Look for foods that can be stored for long periods of time and are simple to prepare, such as canned foods and dry mixes, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests. Ready.gov recommends including foods like dried cereal, protein or fruit bars, canned fruits and vegetables and other high-energy foods. Also, remember to include a can opener.

Other essentials

A number of other items may come in handy in the event of an emergency. These are some of the supplies the Red Cross suggests including in your emergency kit:

  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Batteries
  • One-week supply of medications and medical supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Cash
  • Multi-purpose tool

Important documents

Consider storing copies of important documents in your emergency kit, the Red Cross says. Those may include paperwork showing proof of address, the deed to your home, birth certificates, passports and insurance policies.

Pet supplies

You may want to create a separate emergency kit for your pets, says Ready.gov. The kit should include essentials like at least three days' worth of food and water for each pet, medications, first aid supplies, toys and a photo of you with your pet, which may help if you become separated. Consider some additional emergency preparation for your pets, like the suggestion from Ready.gov of having a friend or family member outside of the area you live who would be willing to let you and your pet stay with them.

An emergency situation can throw a wrench in your routine, but with a little advance planning, you and your family may be better prepared to face an unexpected situation. Put your emergency preparedness kit together now so you'll know your family has the essentials ready to go if disaster strikes.