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Disaster Kits - What You Need to Survive a Natural Disaster

Updated on September 8, 2012

Do you have a disaster kit? Before any sort of disaster occurs, whether it be flood, earthquake, tsunami or fire, it is common sense to prepare a disaster kit so that you will be able to handle whatever happens.

We seem to be seeing more and more disasters everyday on the news. Whether it is occurring more often or is just getting more news coverage, I don't know. The odds are some of us will become caught up in natural disasters in the near future. And we must be prepared for whatever comes.

Natural Disaster

When a natural disaster occurs, we can't always rely on police or governments to provide help. The grocery store might be so badly damaged you can't go into it, the supplies in the store might be quickly depleted or you may not be able to get to the store.

According to FIMA, the six basic supplies you need in a disaster kit are:

  • water
  • food
  • first aid supplies
  • clothing, bedding and sanitation supplies
  • tools
  • special items


You should have a three-day supply of water on hand, or about one gallon per day per person. FIMA recommends bottled water. However, they go on to say that if you are preparing your own water that you use "food-grade" water bottles or cleaned soft drink bottles. If your water is not already treated with chlorine, add some household bleach to the bottles. It should be stored in a cool, dark place for no longer than six months.


Put aside at least three-days worth of food in your disaster kit that is non-perishable and don't need refrigeration. Also, choose foods that don't need heating. Avoid foods with a high salt content as they will make you thirsty. You can include a can of sterno if you do want to heat food or drinks up. And don't forget a can-opener.

Foods that are recommended are:

  • Candy, chocolate, tea, coffee
  • Sugar, salt, pepper
  • Canned juice, milk, soup
  • Canned fruits, meat, vegetables
  • Peanut butter, jelly, crackers
  • Baby food if necessary
  • Vitamins
  • Pet food for those of us who have pets

First Aid Supplies

Since I am not an expert this excerpt below on what first-aid supplies your disaster kit needs appears on the FEMA homepage:

Assemble a first aid kit for your home and one for each car. A first aid kit should include:

  • 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
  • Needle
  • 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

Non-prescription drugs

  • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
  • Anti-diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.

Clothing, Bedding and Sanitation Supplies

Make sure your disaster kit contains clothes that will protect you from cold and from heat. You should include at least one change of clothing per person, including footwear. Make sure you bring soap, detergeant, toilet paper, feminine supplies, garbage bags (to dispose of personal waste), a plastic bucket with lid, disinfectant and household bleach.


Again, I am not an expert so here is the list from the FEMA homepage:

  • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
  • Emergency preparedness manual
  • Portable, battery-operated radio or television¬†and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Cash or traveler's checks, change
  • Nonelectric can opener, utility knife
  • Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Needles, thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Map of the area (for locating shelters)

Special Items

Special items include family documents such as birth certificates, passports, wills, photo id, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, household inventory, cash, books and other entertainment, batteries, extra glasses and prescription drugs.


Submit a Comment

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 5 years ago from South Africa

    Thank you for this most informative and useful hub about disaster kits, Uninvited Writer!

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Thanks Mary, of course you can link to this hub

  • mary615 profile image

    Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

    This Hub is full of good advice. I wrote a Hub on being prepared for a natural disaster when we got a close call from Hurricane Issac. May I link this Hub into mine?

    I voted this Hub UP, etc.etc.

  • profile image

    Justine 6 years ago

    MaineWriter, you can drink the water you store before the six month period and replace it with new ones. The same goes for the food items that you keep - eat them and replace them every three to four months or so :D

  • MaineWriter profile image

    MaineWriter 6 years ago from Maine

    I often wonder what we can do for water when the six month time limit has passed. Can we boil water to ensure it is sterile?

  • profile image

    Water Damage Restoration  7 years ago

    Toni, don't be scared, there isn't going to be any disaster, people tend to say stupid things when they are bored. It's good to be ready just in case, anyway.

  • profile image

    TONI 7 years ago


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    emergencyresponse 7 years ago

    I've seen some kits similar to this at military supply outlets. Good items to have!

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    You need the scissors to cut the bandages...

  • profile image

    benjanificxlm 8 years ago

    i needed to know why u need to have scissors in an earthquake

  • tobacco lover profile image

    tobacco lover 8 years ago

    Your medical kit should contain a bottle of 16 year old Scotch. Just for medical reasons mind you. Every 'survival' kit should contain something your family members find pleasant. For me it's a tin of pipe tobacco. For my granddaughter it's a bag of fritos. For my wife it's a tin of speciality coffee.

    Just something each person in your house would find pleasant to have in an emergency. I suppose this falls under "Special Items".

  • profile image

    Troy Billington 8 years ago

    I have a site which contains 72 hour kits, first aid, water (and purification/storage) as well as long term food storage and survival resources. Beyond that, something that can't be bought...knowledge of how to prepare yourself and your family for any disaster.

  • LVM profile image

    LVM 8 years ago

    This is a good advice for everyone - be prepared for any disaster.

  • knell63 profile image

    knell63 8 years ago from Umbria, Italy

    Excellent hub, I had thought about something like this, especially as I live in Umbria and are about 70km from the last Italian earthquake a couple of weeks ago but you put a whole new spin on the things I should think about keeping safe. Cheers.

  • profile image

    someone 8 years ago


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    Whikat 8 years ago

    Great advice! I have the medical kit and some other items, but it looks like I have got some more packing to do. :-)

  • profile image

    badcompany99 8 years ago

    Think I need one, my life is a disaster !

  • Uninvited Writer profile image

    Susan Keeping 8 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

    Good idea, Lissie. Gin solves everything...

  • Lissie profile image

    Elisabeth Sowerbutts 8 years ago from New Zealand

    Hmm you missed the good quality gin - it can be used as antispectic as well as a sleeping aid and a muscel relaxent - when taken internally of course. Chocolate is must have too!

  • LondonGirl profile image

    LondonGirl 8 years ago from London

    comprehensive guide, thank you!

  • cashmere profile image

    cashmere 8 years ago from India

    The title of this hub caught my imagination and attention. Lot of things make sense.

    One should actually keep this stuff ready today, just in case...

  • Savings Lady profile image

    Savings Lady 8 years ago

    This is good information. Preparation is easy to do and it may save lives.

    Off topic, how did you manage to insert the feed with all answers? I want to do the same, but I'm clueless. Thanks!

  • stephhicks68 profile image

    Stephanie Hicks 8 years ago from Bend, Oregon

    Be prepared! I guess we have some work to do! :-) Great hub.

  • profile image

    Iphigenia 8 years ago

    This is a great guide - very comprehensive - I have nothing like this and you've made me think !