University of Missouri Extension

EMW1012, Reviewed September 2018

Disaster Supplies Kit

Distributed by MU Extension
Produced by the American Red Cross
Reproduced with permission

What kind of container?

What should I put my family’s disaster supplies kit in?  Disaster Supplies kits can be large or small depending on how many persons you have to gather supplies for in your household.  Remember that for your home disaster supplies kit you should include supplies for everyone in your household including pets.  This may make a difference in what type of container you utilize for your kit.  Next, remember that you may not be the one picking up or carrying the disaster supplies kit.  Everyone should be able to get the kit and evacuate the home quickly.  Some containers have wheels, some have straps and carrying handles to make evacuating quicker and easier. 

Below are some options of types of containers to use for your disaster supplies kit.  You may have something to use already or you may need to purchase them.  Either way you will need something dedicated for your disaster supplies kit.  Mark it clearly so that everyone is aware of the contents.   


Disaster supplies kit — food

How long can food supplies be stored?
To judge how long you can store food supplies, look for an "expiration date" or "best if used by" date on the product. If you cannot find a date on the product, then the general recommendation is to store food products for six months and then replace them.

Some households find it helpful to pull food products for their regular meals from their disaster supplies kit and replace them immediately on an ongoing basis, so the food supplies are always fresh.

What kinds of food supplies are recommended to store in case of a disaster?

Recommended foods

Foods to avoid

What is the basis for the Red Cross recommendation to store supplies to last several days to a week? The American Red Cross recommendations to have food, water, and other emergency supplies on hand are not new, and are considered reasonable in case of any disaster. Our recommendations are to have supplies to last several days to a week. Most reasonable people would not consider such quantities of supplies as a "stockpile" or "hoarding."

Some families may choose to store supplies to last several weeks or more. Certainly, if they wish to do so, they may. It is always wise to have sufficient food and water supplies on hand in case access to such supplies may be disrupted by a disaster.

Disaster supplies kit — water

What kinds of containers are recommended for storing water?
Make sure the water storage container you plan to use is of food grade quality, such as 2-liter soda bottles, with tight-fitting screw-cap lids. Milk containers are not recommended because they do not seal well.

Should water be treated before storing it?
If your local water is treated commercially by a water treatment utility, you do not have to treat the water before storing it. Treating commercially treated water with bleach is superfluous and not necessary. Doing so does not increase storage life. It is important to change and replace stored water every six months or more frequently.

If your local water is not treated commercially by a water treatment facility, that is, if your water comes from a public well or other public, non-treated system, follow instructions about water storage provided by your public health agency or water provider. They may recommend treating it with a small amount of liquid household bleach. Still, it is important to change and replace stored water every six months or more frequently.

If your local water comes from a private well or other private source, consult with your local public health agency about recommendations regarding storage of water. Some water sources have contaminants (minerals or parasites) that cannot be neutralized by treatment with liquid household chlorine bleach. Only your local public health agency should make recommendations about whether your local water can be safely stored, for how long, and how to treat it.

Can I use bottled water?
If you plan to use commercially prepared "spring" or "drinking" water, keep the water in its original sealed container. Change and replace the water at least once a year. Once opened, use it and do not store it further.

More about water

Disaster supplies kit preparation — first aid supplies

Anatomy of a first aid kit
First Aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase one from a drug store or the St. Louis Area Chapter, or you can make your own kit. Kits are designed for a variety of locations including your home, office or automobile. They're also important to have for special activities such as hiking, camping or boating. Whether you buy a First Aid kit or put one together yourself, make sure it has all the items you need to be prepared for emergencies. See the inventory list below but also be sure to include any personal items, such as medications and emergency phone numbers, or items your physician may suggest. Check the kit regularly to make sure flashlight batteries work, out-of-date contents are replaced, and expiration dates are current . Remember, the contents of a first aid kit can be dangerous in the hands of young children, so store your first aid kit in a secure place.


First aid kit suggestions

Disaster supplies kit preparation — tools, supplies, clothing and bedding

Items marked with an asterisk are recommended.

Supplies and tools


Clothing and bedding
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person.

Special items and important family documents

Remember family members with special requirements.

For baby

For adults

Important family documents 
Store in a waterproof, portable container.

EMW1012 Disaster Supplies Kit | University of Missouri Extension

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