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Johns Hopkins Center for Public Health Preparedness

Personal Preparedness Planning

Basic Principles of Personal Preparedness

  • All of us should be able to survive comfortably on our own for at least 3 days following an incident.
  • The time to prepare is before an incident occurs.
  • Participate in open discussion with family members about response planning.

Types of Events

Natural Disasters - hurricanes, earthquakes, floods
Naturally Occurring Illnesses - influenza, SARS
Terrorism Events - chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive

Basic Categories of Items For an Emergency Kit


  • The average person uses one gallon of water per day in drinking, cooking, and miscellaneous uses.
  • A 3–7 day supply is recommended.
  • Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers.
  • If bottling your own water, note storage date and replace every 6 months.
  • If purchasing bottled water, follow the expiration date on the bottle.


  • Non-perishable foods
  • 3–7 day supply is recommended.
  • Maintain caloric intake.
  • Minimize the use of food that requires preparation.
  • Have a manual can opener.
  • Maintain sanitation by using fresh water for cooking.


  • Use blankets/sleeping bags for warmth.
  • Pillow
  • Small candle
  • Waterproof matches


  • Change of clothes
  • Comfortable shoes, socks
  • Layers of clothing for comfort
  • Raincoat or poncho
  • Hat

Basic Supplies

  • Personal medications (at least a 3-day supply)
  • Battery-powered flashlight
  • Spare batteries
  • Pan for cooking
  • Communication/battery-powered radio
  • First aid kit
  • Map
  • Knife/utensils

Personal Hygiene

  • Bathroom tissue
  • Deodorant
  • Feminine products
  • Soap
  • Hand-washing materials
  • Sunscreen

Additional Key Items

  • Cash and credit cards
  • Personal identification
  • Extra set of car keys
  • Extra eyeglasses, contact lenses
  • Scissors
  • Duct-tape/heavy-duty garbage bags

Click here for a downloadable checklist for your home

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