Step 3: Organize Emergency Supplies

Organize Emergency Supplies in convenient locations.

Drawing of a parent and child organizing emergency supplies in a backpack and a larger container

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Everyone should have emergency supplies stored in accessible locations at home, at work, and in vehicles. Having emergency supplies readily available can reduce the impact of an earthquake or other emergency on you and your family.

You can choose what to put in each location:

  • Under-Bed Bags hold shoes, a flashlight, and other items for when an earthquake happens while sleeping.
  • Go-Bags or car kits contain supplies for about 3 days for when evacuation is needed.
  • Home or work supplies are for sheltering in place for up to to 2 weeks or for larger groups.

The lists below include the items you can choose to include in each location.

Under-Bed Bags

While the other emergency supplies below are for nearly any emergency, “Under-Bed Bags” are just in case of earthquakes, especially when people are sleeping. Items that you leave next to your bed (including shoes and glasses) will be scattered during earthquakes and possibly covered with fallen items or under your bed. Shoes may also be filled with broken glass. So it’s a good idea to have these items within a closed bag, attached to each bed:


  • Shoes
  • Glasses/contacts
  • Flashlight/headlamp
  • Dust mask
  • Whistle

  • Clothing
  • Hard Hat / helmet
  • Gloves
  • Crowbar
  • First Aid Kit

Go-Bags and Car Kits

Everyone should have a personal emergency supplies “Go-Bag” to take if evacuation is necessary. These can be for an individual, family, or small group, with contents to last for about 3 days. You can also keep these supplies in a car. These items are recommended:

  • Medications, prescription list, copies of medical cards, doctor’s name and contact information
  • Medical consent forms for dependents
  • First aid kit and handbook
  • Examination gloves (non-latex)
  • Dust mask
  • Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses and cleaning solution
  • Bottled water
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Whistle (to alert rescuers to your location)
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Emergency cash
  • Road maps
  • List of emergency out-of-area contact phone numbers
  • Snack foods, high in water and calories
  • Working flashlight with extra batteries and light bulbs, or light sticks
  • Portable radio with extra batteries (or hand crank for charging)
  • Comfort items such as games, crayons, writing materials, teddy bears
  • Toiletries and special provisions you need for yourself and others in your family including elderly, disabled, small children, and animals.
  • Copies of personal identification (drivers license, work ID card, etc.)

Use our Step 3: Organize Emergency Supplies checklist
to choose what to store in each location


Household and Workplace Supplies

Electrical, water, transportation, and other vital systems can be disrupted for several days or much longer in some places after a large earthquake. Emergency response agencies and hospitals could be overwhelmed and unable to provide you with immediate assistance. Providing first aid and having supplies will save lives, will make life more comfortable, and will help you cope after the next earthquake.

In addition to your personal emergency supplies kits, store household or workplace emergency supplies in an easily accessible location (in a large watertight container that can be easily moved), with a supply of the following items to last at least 3 days and ideally for 2 weeks:

  • Water (minimum one gallon a day for each person)
  • Wrenches to turn off gas and water supplies
  • Work gloves and protective goggles
  • Heavy duty plastic bags for waste, and to serve as tarps, rain ponchos, and other uses
  • Portable radio with extra batteries (or hand crank for charging)
  • Additional flashlights or light sticks
  • Canned and packaged foods
  • Charcoal or gas grill for outdoor cooking and matches if needed
  • Cooking utensils, including a manual can opener
  • Pet food and pet restraints
  • Comfortable, warm clothing including extra socks
  • Blankets or sleeping bags, and perhaps even a tent
  • Copies of vital documents such as insurance policies

Use and replace perishable items like water, food, medications and batteries on a yearly basis.