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By their nature, disasters and other emergencies are unpredictable. You can't prepare for every possible situation. But you can provide for your family’s basic needs and establish how you’ll respond and communicate. Creating a simple emergency kit and plan can give you peace of mind, whether you ever need them or not.

Basic Emergency Kit

Start by assuming that it may take several days for help to arrive. Put together a kit that will sustain your family for 72 hours. Essentials include:

  • Three gallons of water per person
  • Three days’ worth of non-perishable food
  • Sleeping bags or warm blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Needed prescription medications and glasses (check expiration dates regularly)
  • Radio and flashlight (battery-powered or hand-crank)

Store your kit in a secure but accessible place such as a closet, and make sure all household members know where it is. You may need or want to include other items in your kit. For more ideas, visit

Communication Plan

Plan how you’ll communicate with any family members you may be separated from. During an emergency, a local call may be more difficult to complete than a long-distance one. Identify a relative in another state who will serve as a shared contact. List this person as the ICE (in case of emergency) contact in your cell phone.

Also make sure your family members know how to send text messages, which may work in some situations when phone calls do not.

Know Your Area

Use the resources below to learn about the most likely emergencies where you live, as well as how information will be provided in a crisis. Sign up for any available alerts. You may have to quickly relocate during an emergency, so consider what routes you might take. Keep in mind that many routes may be unavailable.

During a crisis, frequently check any available resources—TV, radio, Internet—for updated instructions about road closures, health dangers, and getting assistance.