Ask The Expert: What Supplies Do I Need in the Case of a Disaster?

Sharon Carlson, RN, is Sharp HealthCare's director of disaster preparedness.

What are the basic supplies I need in case of a disaster?


  • 1 gallon of drinking water per person per day for a minimum of three days
  • Chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper (can be used to treat water to make it safe for drinking by adding 16 drops of bleach to 1 gallon of water)
  • Pet food, water and medications for pets
  • Three-day supply of nonperishable food (don't forget a can opener)


  • Change of clothes
  • Closed-toed shoes
  • Diapers and baby formula, if needed  
  • Feminine supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Hand sanitizer and wet wipes, for personal sanitation
  • Prescription medications (30-day supply)
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste


  • Can opener
  • Cash or traveler's checks (ATMs may not be working)
  • Cell phone and cell phone charger
  • Flashlight or lantern with extra batteries
  • Glow sticks
  • Radio (hand crank or battery operated with extra batteries)
  • Sleeping bag and pillow
  • Trash bags and ties
  • A whistle (can be used to signal for help)
  • Wrench to shut off utilities, such as gas supply
You can also purchase ready-made kits. The American Red Cross Store has several different types of kits and emergency supplies.

Where should I keep my supplies?

  • Backpacks can hold some supplies
  • Supplies should be easily accessible
  • Supplies should be stored in plastic containers with lids, such as new trash cans or other storage containers

Should I plan differently for a fire, earthquake or flood?
Yes, in many ways. I recommend the Ready San Diego website for more specific information on preparing for a wildfire, earthquake, flooding, pandemic, tsunami and terrorism events.

We hope you find the above websites helpful, but please remember that Sharp HealthCare does not control or endorse the information presented on these websites, nor do these sites endorse the information found on