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.

  Disaster Supplies
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?
It's important that your supplies are easily accessible. They are best stored in plastic containers with lids, such as new trash cans or other storage containers. Backpacks can also hold some supplies.

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.

How can I help my family — especially older parents, friends or neighbors — prepare for a disaster?
Consider joining your neighborhood community emergency response team (CERT). The CERT program educates people about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area, and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.

Using the training learned in the classroom and during exercises, CERT members can assist others in their neighborhood or workplace following an event when professional responders are not immediately available to help. CERT San Diego gives you all the details on how to join.

What important papers and information should I have ready in case there is a disaster?
I recommend keeping important documents such as banking information, loan documents, wills and advance directives in a box that can be easily picked up and taken with you in case of evacuation. If you are or have an elderly or disabled family member or friend, I recommend including a Vial of Life.

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