Personal Needs: Emergency Supplies Kit Basics

Personal needs are the things that you absolutely cannot do without in an emergency situation. Think of personal needs as emergency necessities. You need to stockpile these supplies, provisions, and equipment in order to protect the health and safety of your family in an emergency.

The most important personal needs are safe water, food, and your prescriptions in the right amounts:

  • At least a three-day supply of nonperishable and ready-to-eat food, bearing in mind your family’s dietary restrictions, food allergies, and medical conditions such as diabetes.
  • At least a gallon of water per person and pet per day for three days. Try to store a 2-week supply, if possible.
  • At least a 7 to 10 day supply of prescription medications. Find out if laws in your state authorize pharmacists to dispense a 30-day refill of medications in an emergency.

Once you have the essentials covered, you can expand your emergency stockpile beyond the basics to include other types of supplies:

  • First aid supplies, such as waterproof bandages, a digital thermometer, tweezers, and scissors;
  • Medical supplies, such as antibacterial wipes, catheters, syringes, and blood-test strips;
  • Hygiene and health protection supplies, such as soap, hand sanitizer, sanitizing wipes, feminine hygiene supplies, insect repellentexternal icon, and sunscreen.

Look out for your eyes and ears. Include a spare pair of eyeglasses and contact lenses, and a hearing aid in
your kit.

Medical devices, such as nebulizers, oxygen equipment, and blood glucose monitors, are also personal needs. If anyone in your household uses mobility aides such as a cane, crutches, a walker or a wheelchair, these should factor into your extended kit as well.

Last, but certainly not least, get plenty of extra supplies for your little ones. Stock up on baby supplies, childcare supplies and pet supplies.

Speaking of kids, they love to help! Use CDC’s Ready Wrigley activity books to help explain emergency preparedness to children and engage them in gathering supplies.

For more Prepare Your Health information, tips, and checklists, visit

Quick Tips
  • Be ready to evacuate at a moment’s notice. Pack emergency supplies in portable and durable containers, such as plastic bins or backpacks
  • Store a bottle of unscented, household bleach (label should say it contains between 5-6% and 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite) to disinfect your water, if necessary, and to use for general cleaning
    and sanitizing.
  • Update your supplies every six months.
    Remove, use, and replace any food and water, prescription medications, and supplies before
    they expire.
Page last reviewed: July 16, 2019, 11:50 AM