Preparing for natural disaster... whether it's a hurricane, tsunami, flood, or some other event...could mean the difference in survival. Taking the time to assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit to meet the basic needs of your household will help bridge the temporary loss of everyday conveniences. What would you do without food, water, and electricity? Your supply kit should be built around basic items which help cope with these and other personal hardships.

The time to prepare a disaster supplies kit is now. During an emergency, supplies will be in big demand and stores will run out of inventory quickly. And once disaster hits, there won't be time to search for supplies.

The American Red Cross recommends six basics to stock at home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing, bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items. Keep items you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy – to – carry container.

For more information, contact your county civil defense agency or local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Below are guidelines to consider for basic disaster supplies. Items most likely needed in case of evacuation are marked by an asterisk (*).



Store 1 gallon of water per person per day ( 2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food preparation and sanitation). Keep at least a 3 – day supply of water for each person in your household.

To purify water for safe drinking supply:

Boil vigorously 1 – 3 minutes.

Use purification tablets available at most drug stores. Follow package directions.

Use household bleach. (Must contain 5.24% hypochlorite) For one gallon of water, add 8 drops (⅛ teaspoon) if water is clear; if water is cloudy, add 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon). For five gallons of water, if water is clear, add ½ teaspoon; if cloudy, 1 teaspoon. Let water stand at least 30 minutes before drinking.



Store at least a 3 – day supply of nonperishable food. Select items which don't require refrigeration, preparation or cooking, and little or no water. * Include a selection from food listing below in your Disaster Supplies Kit.

  • Ready – to – eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables.
  • Canned juices, milk, soup. (If powdered, store extra water)
  • Staples – sugar, salt, pepper, etc.
  • High energy foods – peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix
  • Vitamins
  • Foods for infants, elderly or persons on special diets. (Do not use left – over baby food if not refrigerated)
  • Comfort/stress foods – cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, instant coffee, tea bags, etc.
  • Extra pet food


Without electricity, food in refrigerators and freezers will spoil. If you know in advance that power will be shut off:

  • Use perishable foods in refrigerator and freezer first.
  • Make extra ice
  • Freeze extra freeze – pack inserts and keep them frozen for emergencies
  • Buy a cooler
  • Freeze water in plastic containers (do not fill to top before freezing – allow for expansion)
  • Know where to buy dry ice. 25 lbs. of dry ice should hold a 10 – cubic foot full freezer cold for 3 – 4 days. (Note: dry ice may be limited on some islands.)


How long food remains frozen in the freezer depends on the amount, type, temperature, and freezer insulation. Keep freezer door closed for as long as possible to prevent loss of cold air. Large cuts of meat or poultry will stay frozen longer than baked goods or small items. In fully loaded separate freezers, food may remain frozen for 48 to 72 hours. Food thaws quicker in a refrigerator/freezer, but should remain frozen about 12 hours or longer in a side – by – side unit or up to 24 hours in a top or bottom – mount freezer.

Use refrigerated foods as soon as possible. It is difficult to make general recommendations about food safety as this depends on the type of food, its preparation and handling.

Some guidelines:

  • Butter, margarine, and hard cheese are safe unless mold or rancid odors develop.
  • Fresh fruits and vegetables are safe as long as the are not mushy or slimy.
  • Eggs will be safe for several days if shells have no cracks.
  • Fresh meat, poultry, luncheon meats, or frankfurters should be discarded if allowed to warm to room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Milk and cream will probably be sour after eight hours without refrigeration.
  • Commercial (purchased) mayonnaise should be kept refrigerated once opened. Discard if left without refrigeration for more than two hours.
Vinegar and oil salad dressings, jellies, jams, may be left unrefrigerated unless they have been contaminated by poultry or meat juices. Discard if moldy: mustard, catsup, and pickles.

Previously frozen foods: Meat, poultry, fish, fruits and vegetables can usually be safely refrozen if they still have ice crystals present or are very cold (40 degrees F or lower), but there will be some loss of quality. Refrozen foods should be used as soon as possible. When cooking, remember that refrozen foods have been thawed once. If thawing is necessary, do it in the refrigerator or microwave, not by thawing at room temperature.

Discard any food that has an off color or odor, or food that has warmed to room temperature for an unknown length of time.

Generally, if in question about the food safety, discard it.



Assemble a First Aid Kit for your home and one for each car. Each kit* should include:

  • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
  • 2 – inch sterile gauze pads (4 – 6)
  • 4 – inch sterile gauze pads (4 – 6)
  • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
  • Triangular bandages (3)
  • 2 – inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • 3 – inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
  • Scissors
  • Tweezers
  • Needle
  • Moistened towelettes
  • Antiseptic
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue blades (2)
  • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
  • Assorted sizes of safety pins
  • Cleansing agent/soap
  • Latex gloves (2 pair)
  • Sunscreen

Non – prescription drugs

  • Aspirin or non – aspirin pain reliever
  • Anti – diarrhea medication
  • Antacid (for stomach upset)
  • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • Laxative
  • Activated Charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

    *(For prescription advice, see your family physician).  Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.


  • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates & plastic utensils *
  • Emergency preparedness manual *
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries*
  • Flashlight and extra batteries *
  • Cash or traveler´s checks, change *
  • Non – electric can opener; utility knife *
  • Fire extinguisher, small canister, ABC type
  • Tube tent
  • Pliers
  • Tape
  • Compass
  • Matches in waterproof container
  • Aluminum foil
  • Plastic storage containers
  • Signal flare
  • Paper, pencil
  • Needles, thread
  • Medicine dropper
  • Shut – off wrench to turn off household gas and water
  • Whistle
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Area map ( if needed for locating shelters)


  • Toilet paper, towelettes *
  • Soap, liquid detergent *
  • Feminine supplies *
  • Personal hygiene supplies *
  • Plastic garbage bags, ties – – for personalsanitation uses
  • Plastic bucket with tight lid
  • Disinfectant
  • Household chlorine bleach


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

  • Sturdy shoes or work boots. * (Not slippers)
  • Rain gear *
  • Blankets or sleeping bags *
  • Sunglasses


Remember family members with special needs, such as infants, elderly or disabled persons.

For Baby *

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered milk
  • Medications

For Adults *

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication
  • Insulin
  • Prescription drugs
  • Denture Needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies
  • Extra eye glasses

Entertainment– games and books

Important Family Documents – Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container. (Important documents and valuables are best kept in a bank safety deposit box.)

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds
  • Passports, social security cards, immunization records
  • Bank account and credit card numbers, companies
  • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
  • Family records – birth, marriage, death certificates


  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep items in air tight plastic bags.
  • Change stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
  • Rotate stored food every six months.
  • Re – think supply kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothing, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.


Getting started...

NOTE. Most shelters in Hawaii are not equipped to provide meals, beds, or emergency care. You must bring food, clothing, bedding, and special items with you. Pets are not allowed in shelters. Contact your local humane society or vet for information on how to care for pets and livestock in a disaster.

  • Contact your local civil defense office or American Red Cross chapter for information on preparedness. See the Emergency Information section in the white pages of telephone directories for information and instructions.
  • Meet with family members to discuss what to do in an emergency.
  • Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster.
  • Pick two meeting places:
    • a location a safe distance from your home in case of fire;
    • a place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
    • Choose an off – island or out – of – state friend or relative as a "check – in contact" for everyone to call.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
  • Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Test monthly and change batteries at least twice a year.
  • Contact your local fire department to learn more about fire hazards.
  • Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross for information and training.
  • Meet with neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster.
  • Practice and maintain your family emergency plan.


"Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit", American Red Cross, FEMA L – 189, ARC 4463, rev 1992.

"Disaster Food Planning", Hawaii Department of Health Nutrition Branch, 1995.

"Handbook for Emergency Preparedness", Hawaiian Electric Company, 1996.

"Emergency Checklist", Hawaii State Civil Defense, 1987