PREP Checklists: GO and STAY KITS

In gathering what you need to make it through a disaster, put together both a GO KIT, in case you need to evacuate, and a STAY KIT of equipment and supplies you’ll need to ride it out at home. Even after a major earthquake, your house might still be safe to stay in, and with enough preparation you can stay at home even if utility and transport services are out. Studies show people fare best at home if it’s safe. Here are PREP’s suggestions – based on Red Cross, and other sources – as a starting point for customizing your kits for your family’s needs.

GO KIT: Consider what you’d need if your house is not safe and you need to evacuate to a shelter, motel, or home of family or friend. Pack up the GO BAGS (consider rolling suitcases or backpacks) and store them in an easily accessible place.
Under everyone’s bed

  • a pair of sturdy shoes/boots & socks
  • bicycle helmet or hard hat
  • leather work gloves
  • flashlight & whistle stuffed in shoes
  • bottle of water

In personal GO BAGS

  • toothbrush & paste, soap & small towel
  • facial tissue and toilet paper
  • complete change of warm clothing and rain gear
  • sleeping bag or blanket
  • water: 1 gallon/day x 3 days (or put in family bag)
  • medications & wellness items
  • spare pair of glasses or contact lens items
  • out of area contact information
  • photo of the whole family
  • cash in small bills
  • a comfort item (stuffed toy, book . . . )

In the family GO BAG

  • 3 days’ supply of high-protein, high-energy food that won't spoil (see STAY KIT for suggestions)
  • can opener, utensils, plastic/paper dishes & cups
  • battery/crank radio, flashlight, extra batteries
  • first aid kit including prescriptions & a manual
  • sewing kit with scissors
  • extra set house & car keys
  • more cash in small bills & credit card
  • important family papers in a waterproof container
  • (include copies of insurance & medical information & phone nos.; prescriptions; driver’s licenses/other ID)
  • photo of whole family and pets
  • paper and pens or pencils with hand sharpener
  • sanitation supplies (see STAY KIT for examples)
  • toilet paper
  • entertainment items: cards, books
  • special items for infants, children, elderly or disabled family members

For Fido or Fluffy
Pets, except service animals, are not generally allowed in human shelters. Some shelters might have facilities for pets nearby, but most don’t. So it’s important to make alternative plans such as kennels, pet-friendly motels, neighbors, friends or family. See the Family Pet Emergency Plan handout for information and supplies for your pet’s emergency kit. Also,

  • consider microchipping your pet companion
  • be sure rabies vaccinations are up to date (required for shelter admission)
  • keep your pets securely leashed or confined while transporting; keep papers & emergency kit with them
  • arrange with a trusted neighbor to care for each  other’s pets if you’re not home when disaster strikes; make sure neighbor knows location of emergency kit

STAY KIT: In a large disaster such as a regional earthquake, supplies will be a long time coming due to damaged or impassible roads, so it’s best to plan for 3 weeks on your own. To build up your kit a little at a time over 16 weeks, use the Family Emergency Supply Calendar handout as a buying guide. To the GO KIT lists, add this list:
Water: Store tap water in clean food-safe bottles (not milk jugs), or buy bottled water. Also, you can use water from your water heater if it’s not damaged. (Be sure now that it’s securely strapped down, and flush the heater annually to remove sediment.) This water may not be drinkable without treatment but can be used for washing.

  • You need 1 gallon per person per day for drinking, cooking and hygiene.

See the Beyond 72 Hours handout for more information on how to store and purify water.

Food: See Beyond 72 Hours for using food from the fridge and freezer. Choose foods household members like, which don't need refrigeration, are not too salty, and mostly don’t require cooking. (If you use dehydrated food or very salty food, you’ll need more water.)  Don’t store food for your kit in glass. Include

  • protein items such as nuts & canned meats, fish, beans, soups & stews
  • canned vegetables & fruits; canned/boxed juices
  • high energy foods such as energy bars, peanut butter & crackers, trail mix, dried fruit, cookies
  • dry cereal/granola & sealed boxes of milk or boxed milk substitutes
  • comfort foods (coffee, tea, chocolate!)
  • vitamins
  • special needs for infants & elders

Kitchen gear & supplies:

  • camp stove & fuel (see Beyond 72 Hours for why to cook OUTSIDE ONLY!)
  • non-electric can opener
  • antibacterial dish soap
  • household bleach to dilute for a disinfectant (10 drops per gallon of water, let stand 30+ minutes)
  • zip seal bags; garbage bags & ties
  • To minimize the need for washing water, store paper plates & cups, plastic utensils, paper towels & napkins, disposable disinfecting hand wipes

Emergency gear:

  • battery lanterns, more batteries
  • candles with matches in waterproof holder (last resort light source only—fire hazard)
  • magnesium striker
  • cell phone; battery or hand crank phone charger (test it!)
  • hand crank battery charger or auto battery inverter
  • dust masks to filter dust-contaminated air
  • local maps


  • separate buckets for pee & poo with toilet seat lid   & sawdust or other carbon material to cover poo (see  Beyond 72 Hours for details; learn how!)
  • heavy duty trash bags & ties
  • personal & feminine hygiene items, soap, shampoo

See “Kitchen gear & supplies” for using bleach as a disinfectant.

  • Swiss Army knife, field knife with razor bands & sharpening stone, multi tool
  • pliers sets, vise grips, multi screwdriver set, screws, hammer, nails, wire, epoxy, staple gun & staples
  • small axe, shovel, foldable root saw, hack saw blade, metal file for sharpening, crowbar or pry bar
  • shutoff tools (non-sparking) to turn off utilities
  • ABC fire extinguisher


  • tent (see Beyond 72 Hours for how to use indoors)
  • plastic sheeting & duct tape for covering broken windows
  • roofing tarp
  • 2 painter drop cloths 10x20
  • nylon rope

CAMPING KIT: In addition to the STAY and GO KIT lists, include these items if you want the option of camping out in your back yard or elsewhere. This could be an alternative to a shelter, motel, or family member/friend’s home, should your house not be safe to stay in.
Camp kitchen:

  • mess kits or cups, plates & utensils
  • cook pots, cooking knife, large spoon
  • ice chest for food storage
  • aluminum foil
  • sponge scrubby, hand towel, hot pads


  • extra warm clothes, underwear & socks
  • boots, rain pants & poncho


  • US Army Field Guide or similar survival book
  • mylar blankets, quick dry towels
  • sunscreen, bug repellent
  • notebooks, paper, pens, pencils with hand sharpener
  • books, games, puzzles, toys, etc. for children
  • stuff sacs, duffel bags &/or backpacks
  • small backpacks/waist packs for personal stuff

Once you have these kits together, you can make smaller kits for the car, work or school. See the Resources section of the PREP website if you want more suggestions for emergency supplies.