Ask Arlington: How to Create a Basic Emergency Supply Kit to Help Your Family Weather the First 72 Hours After a Disaster
By Office of Communication
Posted on June 02, 2021, June 02, 2021

Emergency Supplies Kit

Being prepared for an emergency isn't just about staying safe during a storm or a disaster. It's also about how to stay comfortable, clean, fed, and healthy afterwards—when a storm or disaster may have knocked out electricity disrupted your normal life.

Arlington residents can take steps to be better prepared in the event of an emergency by assembling a disaster supply kit containing basic items that their household may need. This includes having enough water, food, cash and other supplies for each person in the household that would last for at least a three-day, or 72-hour time period.

“Everyone needs a kit. During a widespread emergency, help may take several days to arrive. Families should be prepared to survive for up to three days before help arrives,” said Shawna Lemley, Emergency Management Planner for the City of Arlington’s Office of Emergency Management. “We are in the middle of severe storm season, so plan now, because you never when a disaster will happen.”

When assembling your kit, it is important to discuss emergencies, your family’s plan, and the kits with every member of the family so that everyone understands where the kits are and what they are for, Lemley said.

Residents can make sure their emergency kit is stocked appropriately with the items on the checklist below. Click here to download customized printable version to take to the store and email to family members. In addition to the basic supplies, residents should consider what unique needs their family might have, such as supplies for pets, infants or seniors.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

• Water – at least one gallon per person, per day
• Non-perishable food, such as dried fruit, peanut butter or energy bars
• Extra cell phone battery or charger
• Battery-powered or hand crank radio that can receive NOAA Weather Radio tone alerts and extra batteries
• Flashlight and extra batteries
• First aid kit
• Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
• Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
• Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
• Non-sparking wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
• Manual can opener (if kit contains canned food)
• Prescription medications and glasses
• Whistle to signal for help
• Local maps

This list of emergency supply kit items is only a starting point. It is important that individuals review this list and consider the unique needs of their family, including pets, for items to include. Individuals should also consider having at least two emergency supply kits, one full kit at home and smaller portable kits in their workplace, vehicle or other places they spend time.

Additional items to consider adding to an emergency supply kit:

• Prescription medications and glasses
• Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
• Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
• Pet food, water and supplies for your pet
• Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a portable waterproof container
• Cash or traveler’s checks
• Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
• Complete change of clothing including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes.
• Fire Extinguisher
• Matches in a waterproof container
• Feminine supplies, personal hygiene items and hand sanitizer
• Mess kits, paper cups, plates and disposable utensils, paper towels
• Paper and pencil
• Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
• Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
• Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
• Replace expired items as needed.
• Reassess your kit during daylights savings twice per year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.

Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.

Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. Update your car kit between each season based on seasonal hazards.

For more information on emergency preparedness, visit

Emergency Preparedness, Ask Arlington, MyArlingtonTV
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