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What should be in your emergency kit? Who should you plan for?  What resources are out there to help me make sure that I don't miss something while packing it?

All of these are very good questions.  The links below will help you put together a family emergency kit, with all the necessary supplies  to be ready for whatever type of emergency.

Building a Shelter-in-Place Kit

Houston residents should be prepared to shelter-in-place in the event of an emergency. Emergencies that might trigger a shelter-in-place include: Tornadoes, Severe Weather, Hurricanes, Law Enforcement or terrorism situations, and hazardous material releases. Your Shelter-in-Place Kit should contain:
  • Water (one gallon per person per day, for drinking and sanitation—up to a 7-day supply).
  • Non-perishable food (up to a 7-day supply per person).
  • Battery-powered radio (with extra batteries) or hand-crank radio.
  • Weather radio with tone alert and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First-aid supplies.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Filter mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, soap, disinfectant, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities (water and electric).
  • Manual can opener if your kit contains canned food.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
  • Plastic tarps for emergency roof repair.
  • Items for unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula, or diapers.
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils.
  • Cash and change.
  • Paper towels.
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Rain gear, sturdy shoes, long pants, and gloves.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, birth certificates, passports, and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
  • A stuffed animal or toy for your child and something to help occupy their time, like books or coloring books. If this includes a hand-held video game, make sure you have extra batteries.
FEMA Photo
Make sure your Shelter-in-Place Kit has everything you need ahead of time. (Photo: FEMA)

What does "Shelter-in-Place" mean?

Shelter-in-Place orders are issued when it is safer for you to be sheltered indoors than for you to evacuate.

In severe weather,  you should:

  • Seek shelter in an interior room on the lowest-floor possible
  • Get underneath a sturdy table or object and hold on.
  • If you or your children have a bicycle helmet, put that on your/their head.
  • Turn on a battery-powered radio and tune it to local radio, or the National Weather Service Radio Service (if equipped)
  • DO NOT open windows or doors ahead of sheltering

In a hazardous material emergency, you should:

  • Close all windows and doors
  • Turn off all Air-Conditioning and Heating systems
  • Seek shelter in an interior room with the fewest doors possible
  • Use plastic sheeting and duct tape to create cover all doors, windows and vents in the space with at least two inches of space around the edge.
  • Turn on a battery-powered radio and tune it to local radio or use your smartphone to find information from official sources (such as houstontx.gov/emergency).
  • When the all-clear is given by local authorities, open all windows and doors and air-out the structure, unless told to do otherwise

In law enforcement situation, if you are ordered to shelter-in-place:

  • Close and lock ALL windows and doors
  • if safe to do so, turn ON all exterior lights
  • Stay inside your home away from windows and doors
  • DO NOT open your door for ANYONE unless they show proper law enforcement identification.
  • Turn on a battery-powered radio and tune it to local radio or use your smartphone to find information from official sources (such as houstontx.gov/emergency).

If you are in a situation where an active shooter is in close proximity, immediately attempt to Run. If you cannot run, then Hide as best you can.  If you cannot run or hide, then be prepared to Fight with anything you have at your disposal.  Watch the Run.Hide.Fight™ video for more information

Building a "Go-Bag"

A "Go-Bag" will ensure you have what you need in the event you have to quickly leave your home.  Make sure these supplies are already put together and in an easily-accessible place.  In some emergencies, you may only have seconds to grab your supplies and leave.

  • Copies of your important papers in a waterproof bag.
  • Extra set of car and house keys.
  • Extra mobile phone charger.
  • Bottled water and snacks such as energy or granola bars.
  • First-aid supplies, flashlight, and whistle.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (with extra batteries, if needed).
  • A list of the medications each member of your family needs and at least a 14-day supply of each medication.
  • Toothpaste, toothbrushes, wet cleansing wipes, and so on.
  • Contact and meeting place information for your family and a map of your local area.
  • Rain ponchos, or foul-weather gear
  • External mobile phone battery pack or solar charger. Some hand-crank flashlights will also include a phone charger.
  • Escape Tool for your car.

Your Family's Unique needs

Families are not all the same. It's important to include items in your go-bag and shelter-in-place kits that meet your family's unique needs. Consider the following:

People with Disabilities and Seniors:
  • Supplies, such as catheters, medications, syringes, incontinence supplies etc.
  • Contact information for your doctor, local pharmacy and medical suppliers
  • Items that you use for your daily life that might be unique to you
  • A list of every medication you take
  • A list of daily activities for which you need help (dressing, bathing, eating, etc.)
Families with Small Children:
  • Diapers, wipes, ointments and creams for diaper changes
  • Extra clothing for all-seasons
  • Baby or toddler food, such as squeeze packets, or formula
  • A stuffed animal or toy for your child and something to help occupy their time, like books or coloring books. If this includes a hand-held video game, make sure you have extra batteries.
Funded by a Grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security