What to pack in an emergency kit

What to pack in an emergency kit

Last updated: July 2011

Illustration: Eva Tatcheva

It's a good idea to keep a kit for any emergency. Here are some things to consider.

Food. At least three days' worth of nonperishable, ready-to-eat foods, such as canned goods, dry cereal, and peanut butter.

Water. At least one gallon per person per day for three days. Bottled water is best because it can be stored indefinitely at room temperature, if it remains properly sealed and is kept dry and away from direct sunlight.

First-aid kit. You can buy a kit or build your own. Include a first-aid manual, antiseptic wipes and antibiotic ointment, bandages, burn ointment, calamine lotion, cold packs, eye-wash solution, gauze, gloves, hydrocortisone cream, scissors, tape, a thermometer, and tweezers. Also include any prescription and over-the-counter medications your family might need:

  • Antihistamines for allergic reactions, including diphenhydramine (Benadryl Allergy and generic) or loratadine (Claritin and generic).
  • Pain relievers, including acetaminophen (Tylenol and generic), aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, and generic) or naproxen (Aleve and generic). Children should not take aspirin, except with a doctor's recommendation.
  • Stomach and antidiarrhea remedies, including loperamide (Imodium and generic).
  • Antacids, including Maalox, Mylanta, Rolaids, Tums, and generic.

Remember that drugs do expire; old drugs should not be used.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

More From Consumer Reports

Laundry & cleaning
Best washing machines that cost $800 or lessVideo These workhorses of the laundry room won't break your budget.
Special report: How safe is your ground beef?Video Recalls of bacteria-tainted ground beef are all too frequent.
Hidden helpers in your phone are at your fingertips Smartphone functionality has zoomed way beyond driving directions.
Why you shouldn't buy drugs from sites outside of the U.S. There are safer ways to save on your prescription drug costs.


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more