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How to Create and Maintain an Emergency Supply Kit 

emergency kit
Suggested items to collect for an emergency preparation kit.

NYC Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommend that every household maintain an emergency supply kit stocked with food, water, and other basic supplies needed to survive for several days without outside help.  

Most of the supplies you’ll need to create your family’s kit are items that you probably already have at home. The rest are widely available.  

Use the item lists and maintenance tips below to build a supply kit that fits your household’s needs and is always ready in an emergency.   

Emergency Supply Kit: Basic Items  

Grab a duffle bag, a covered tub with handles, or a rolling suitcase that would be easy to move quickly, and fill it with these basic items:  

  • Water (one gallon per person per day) 
  • Non-perishable food (e.g., ready-to-eat canned vegetables or meats, granola bars, dry cereal, peanut butter, dried fruits, etc.)  
  • Manual can opener 
  • Flashlight  
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio 
  • NOAA Weather Radio 
  • Extra batteries (for your flashlight and radio, as needed) 
  • First aid kit  
  • Whistle (to signal for help) 
  • Mask (to filter out dust and other particles) 
  • Garbage bags 
  • Moist towelettes 
  • Printed local maps  
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (for an improvised shelter) 
  • Important documents stored in a waterproof container (such as a copy of your insurance policy, medical records, Medicare and Medicaid cards, and identification and bank account records) 
  • Backup phone charger cord and external battery 
  • Prescription medications and over-the-counter medications (like pain relievers or antacids that aren’t included in your first aid kit) 
  • Backup prescription eyeglasses and/or contact lens solution 
  • Cash (in small bills) 
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off gas and water lines) 
  • Small fire extinguisher  
  • Warm blanket for each person 
  • Feminine supplies  
  • One change of clothes and shoes for each person 
  • Personal hygiene items (e.g., toothbrushes, toothpaste and soap) 
  • Matches (stored in a waterproof container) 
  • Cups, plates, paper towels and eating utensils 
  • Paper and pen 

Depending on your family or household’s unique needs, don’t forget to add special items, such as children’s books and games and pet supplies (including additional water). 

Tip: Since you don’t know where you’ll be in an emergency, consider making smaller kits to keep at work or in your car. 

Emergency Supply Kit: Maintenance

Set reminders to review your household’s emergency kit at least twice yearly to keep your supplies updated. You’ll need to check:  

  • Expiration dates on packaged food and water 
  • Medical records and insurance policies for outdated information 
  • Spare clothing and shoes for any items your family has outgrown 

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