News & Events

Personal Checklist: What You Need In Case Of Disaster Emergency

From the Massachusetts Nurse Newsletter
October 2005 Edition

RI Committee on Occupational Safety & Health

If you were without electricity, water, phone and even shelter, what would you do? The devastation of hurricane Katrina should give pause to consider how extreme weather may put any of us in similar dire straits. So if you were to receive a ominous forecast of oncoming extreme and disabling conditions that could mean lose of power and movement (hurricane, severe winter storm, etc.,) what can you do?

There are two options: evacuate, or ride it out (officially called shelter in place).In either case set aside a basic survival kit and a basic plan for survival.

<> Collect and secure the following (probably for three days):-

  • Bottled water (1-3 gallon per person per day)
  • Protective clothing, rainwear, and bedding or sleeping bags.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries.
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • Canned goods and a variety of nonperishables that don’t require cooking)
  • Medications (three-day supply of all daily medications)
  • Eating utensils (plastic or disposable)
  • First-aid kit (see below)
  • Flashlights with extra batteries
  • Changes of clothing and underwear
  • Insect repellent (DEET, Picaridin, or P-menthane diol (PMD)
  • Masking tape, duct tape
  • Paper towels, toilet paper, and sanitary products
  • Pet supplies and carrier (include food, water, leashes, records of shots)
  • Plastic sheeting
  • A set of disaster posters/labels
  • Radio (battery-operated) with extra batteries
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Toiletries (soap, toothpaste and toothbrush, etc.)
  • Tools (can opener, knives, pliers; a Swiss army knife,
  • Cash (electronic infrastructure for ATMS may not be working.)
  • Cell phones (with nonelectrical charger) Set cellphones with an ICE #–(In case of emergency number if you are incapacitated) and Emergency numbers of local, state, and federal agencies
  • Contact information (phone numbers of friends and family)
  • Documents (licenses, passport, birth certificate, etc.) in a waterproof container
  • Financial inventory (a list of financial accounts, mortgages, and loans, including account numbers and location of original documents)
  • Medical information (list medications, any chronic conditions, and medical history, )
  • Written instructions on how to turn off electricity, gas and water if authorities advise you to do so.

The American Red Cross sells prepackaged first-aid kits and emergency preparedness kits for home use, and a basic disaster-supply kit especially designed for the workplace. Check online at or your local Red Cross chapter.

In case you have to evacuate your home, put these supplies in secure portable containers (large rolling trashcan with a lid or a large rolling cooler or several small coolers).
Gauge what you can reasonably carry or store in your car.
Your necessary supply list may include toys, coloring books, favorite dolls etc.)

If you do not evacuate and have lost power remember if you use gasoline- or diesel-powered generators they pose a deadly invisible hazard – carbon monoxide poisoning. Operate any power equipment outdoors.

If you live in an area such as a costal plane that has experienced disastrous flooding then you might look to acquiring an (not inexpensive) inflatable life raft sometimes called SOLAS used on commercial fishing vessels. These easily stored inflatable buoyant apparatuses inflate to a large secure tent and include supplies and first-aid equipment and protective water suits; they are marked and colored to be easily spotted from the air.

Plan ahead

  • Review the local emergency plan in your area. Contact a local fire department, a local Emergency planning committee or the local Health Department/ Some plans are on the internet. Identify emergency evacuation routes and shelters in your community and near your workplace.
  • Decide where family members should meet if separated, and add a backup location in case the first location is impossible to reach.
  • Identify a point-person who will serve as the central contact to call in case of confusion. And also, a back-up.
  • Plan for the eventuality of where you pick up kids being at school. Ask for and review the school emergency plan (district wide plan) so that if the school is evacuated you know where your kids are supposed to be transported.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as a backup contact, in the event that local lines are tied up or out of service.
  • Provide every member of the family with a cell phone or prepaid phone card to make sure they can make a call in an emergency.
  • Consider special needs while making plans. (For example, who will help someone in a wheelchair?) Include pets in your planning.


Time of year will effect your preparations: in winter you will need heavy clothing.

First-aid kit:

Wound care

  • One roll of absorbent cotton
  • Gauze pads (4 inches square)
  • Adhesive tape (1 inch and narrower)
  • Adhesive bandages in various sizes
  • Butterfly bandages to hold gashed skin edges together
  • Wound cleansers (soap, gels, or wipes)


  • Analgesic, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen (in adult and child doses) or aspirin.
  • Antihistamine for allergic reactions
  • Antiseptic ointment or cream (such as bacitracin or triple antibiotic ointment)
  • Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream (1%) for rashes
  • Activated charcoal for inadvertent overdoses
  • Saline eye drops
  • Antacid for stomach upset
  • Antidiarrheal (lopermide) medication
  • Oral glucose preparation for low blood sugar

Other supplies

  • Ace bandages
  • Cold/hot packs
  • Cotton swabs
  • Flashlight
  • Scissors, tweezers and safety pins
  • Disposable Surgical gloves
  • Thermometer

Sources: Harvard Medical School. American Red Cross, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control)


RI Committee on Occupational Safety & Health
741 Westminster St.
Providence, RI 02903