Water and Food for an Emergency

Always keep the following supplies in your home in case of an emergency.


  • One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.

  • Additional water for children, nursing mothers, and sick people.

  • If you live in a warm weather climate, more water may be necessary.

  • Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.

  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.

  • If you must use water of uncertain quality, boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate.

  • Boiling or chlorination will kill most microorganisms but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals. Before drinking, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel, clean cloth, or filter.


  • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (food that does not need refrigeration).

  • Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, cooking, and little or no water.

  • Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.

  • Individuals with special diets and allergies may need particular attention. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula in case they are unable to nurse.

  • Canned dietetic foods, juices, and soups may be helpful for ill or elderly people.

  • Do not forget nonperishable foods for your pets.

  • Choose foods your family will eat. Some examples are:

  • Protein or fruit bars.

  • Peanut butter.

  • Nuts.

  • Canned juices.

  • Vitamins.

  • Comfort/stress foods (favorite treats).

  • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, and vegetables.

  • Dry cereal or granola.

  • Dried fruit.

  • Crackers.

  • High energy foods.

  • Food for infants.

  • Non-perishable pasteurized milk.


  • Store your supplies in a water-proof, pest-proof container separate from your everyday food supply.

  • Keep food in a dry, cool spot.

  • Inspect all food for signs of spoilage before use.

  • Throw out canned goods that become swollen, dented, or corroded (rusted).

  • Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies and date them with a permanent marker.

  • If you lose electricity, use up the food in your refrigerator and garden first.

  • Secondly, use the food from your freezer.


U.S. Department of Homeland Security


Contact FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) at 1-800-480-2520 or www.fema.gov, www.redcross.org, or www.ready.gov.