FEMA and DHS Basic Disaster Kits

Basic disaster supplies can be the difference to riding out a disaster comfortably prepared or, in the worst case, death. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends this basic disaster supply kit:

This is an excellent start for a basic checklist for disaster supplies.

Things I would change, with explanations and additions:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
    • I agree, and would suggest more up to a week. You can also fill sinks, bathtubs, and buckets if there is prior notice to the disaster.
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
    • I would stock at least one weeks worth of food. It is harder to obtain on short notice than water in most disaster situations. Canned food is almost always the easiest (and cheapest) way to get this three day supply. Also, don’t forget your pets…
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
    • Hand crank/solar capabilites preferred. Avoid odd battery requirements or maintain a battery inventory.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
    • Again, hand crank/solar preferred. Batteries have a shelf life and you will need to rotate them out. Also, do not keep batteries in any of these tools when they are in storage.
  • First aid kit
    • They do not list contents of this kit, but any necessary medications need to be included.
  • (Removed) Whistle to signal for help
    • Not needed. This makes more sense in a go bag than a disaster kit. I may consider keeping on this list in an urban area or in a earthquake prone area.
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Highly agree with duct tape. Keep in the packaging if you can. Shelter-in-place is almost always left out of many emergency plans, but it is very important in the rare event that you may need it.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Highly agree. Garbage bags and towelettes could be game changers. Plastic ties are not needed- use duct tape.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Agree, although an all-in-one tool is preferred. A good Leatherman comes with a knife.
  • Manual can opener for food
    • Agree, although an all-in-one tool could do this as well. It is nice to have a crank-type can opener, however.
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
    • Not really kept in a kit. You can use your daily cell phone- just be sure to conserve power and know that texting is the preferred method of communication during a disaster. It does not require a cell tower ‘handshake’
  • (Added) A good pair of mechanic’s gloves
    • I hope you are not planning on sitting on your butt after a disaster.
  • (Added) Space (mylar) blanket for each person
  • (Added) Self defense mechanism
    • There are many schools of thought on this one. The fact is, disasters bring out the worst in some. Do not be a victim by either showing force or using force to stay safe. Anything will do, but obviously a firearm is the catch all for the worst situations.

These are my thoughts. What would you add to the basic disaster supplies kit?

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FEMA and DHS Basic Disaster Kits

Rusty Collins

I am an engineer, Air Force veteran, emergency manager, husband, dad, and experienced prepper. I developed emergency and disaster plans around the globe and responded to many attacks and accidents as a HAZMAT technician. I have been exposed to deadly chemical agents, responded to biological incidents, and dealt with natural disasters. Check out my full story here: Rusty's Story

One thought on “FEMA and DHS Basic Disaster Kits

  • if you are in a building that could collapse with a blast having a dog whistle would alert search dogs to your presence


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