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What to Take if You Evacuate in an Emergency

Allie Johnson

Weathering a storm, fire or other disaster starts with making an emergency evacuation plan for you and your family — including a detailed list of what to take with you.

The items you take may include clothing, food, water, medication, insurance documents and possibly even a few sentimental items like a journal or old photos. What you take will vary based on your household and needs. For example, you might have a baby or a pet that requires special accommodations or a family member who takes daily medication.

Start by making sure each family member has a backpack or other bag that’s sturdy, water-resistant and easy to carry, with pockets or compartments for finding items quickly. You may also want to get a container you can easily grab and place in your car for documents and other paper items.

Here are the things you may want to include when making your list of what to take with you if you evacuate your home.

Communication

Communication is essential when you evacuate in a hurricane, a tornado or other disaster. You may need to call for help, reach family members if you get separated and let faraway loved ones know how you’re doing. Here are the communication essentials to take when you evacuate:

  • Cell phone and charger
  • Laptop computer and charger
  • Portable or emergency charger (in case you can’t plug in)
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Two-way radios

Emergency Supplies

You’ll also need emergency supplies should you face unexpected or unusual situations such as cold or lack of electricity. Keep in mind that some of the things you usually rely on, such as ATMs, credit card machines and even your smartphone, may not be working. Pack these emergency items:

  • A flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • A complete first-aid kit (the Red Cross recommends a 115-item deluxe kit)
  • A blanket
  • A supply of cash
  • A notebook and pen
  • A map or road atlas
  • Extra keys for your car and house
  • Extra batteries for car key fob
  • An all-purpose tool

Important Documents and Phone Numbers

It’s wise to have your important documents stored digitally so you can access them if physical copies get damaged. Here are some important documents to take:

  • Driver’s licenses
  • Passports
  • Car registration
  • Proof of address (such as a utility bill in your name)
  • Deed to home (if you own) or lease (if you rent)
  • Health insurance cards for the family
  • Birth certificates for children
  • Important phone numbers in case your phone isn’t working (family member/emergency contact, landlord, family doctor, pharmacist, pediatrician, veterinarian and insurance agent)
  • Insurance documents (auto policy, home policy or renter’s policy, etc.)
  • Veterinary records for your pet (showing current vaccinations, city license etc.)

Food and Water

Pack so that you and your family have enough food and water to get through at least three days. If you’re wondering what kind of food to put in an evacuation kit, experts recommend crackers, nut butter, dried fruit and nuts and seeds, juice boxes, energy bars, canned beans, canned fruit, canned meat and canned vegetables. Here’s what to pack to sustain you and your family:

  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
  • A can opener

Change of Clothes

Keep in mind that you may need multiple days’ worth of clothing, including a change of clothes in case what you’re wearing gets dirty or wet. Make sure to take:

  • At least three changes of clothes for each person
  • Extra undergarments and socks
  • Spare pair of shoes for each person

Personal Care Items

The personal hygiene items you need to pack will vary based on your and your family’s needs, but here are some items you may want to include:

  • Toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss
  • Shampoo, conditioner and body wash
  • Dry shampoo
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal wipes (in case you can’t access a shower)
  • Tissues
  • Lotion
  • Lip balm
  • Deodorant
  • Menstrual products
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Face masks (N95, KN95 or surgical masks)
  • Vitamin supplements

Medications and Vision Care

If you or someone in your family takes medication or wears contacts or glasses, make sure to consider that when you pack. Your evacuation kit should include these vision and medical supplies:

  • A one-week supply of prescription medication (blood pressure medicine, etc.)
  • Any medical devices you need (hearing aids with extra batteries, walker, etc.)
  • Contact lenses, lens case and multipurpose solution
  • Glasses (take a backup pair even if you wear contacts)
  • Reading glasses (take a spare pair if possible)

If you or your family have special health or medical needs, make a list of items you’ll need to add to your evacuation kit. For example, here’s a list of evacuation items for people with diabetes and here’s a list of evacuation items for those with food allergies.

Baby or Child Necessities

If you have a baby or toddler in the family, you’ll need to pack special supplies. Here are the items you may want to take for babies and young children:

  • Baby food /formula
  • Baby wipes
  • Baby equipment you use (carrier, etc.)
  • Bibs
  • Burp rags
  • Cups
  • Diapers
  • Camp stove (if you need to boil water for sanitizing)
  • Extra blankets
  • Extra water and soap for hand washing
  • Nursing pads
  • Pacifiers
  • Snacks for toddlers or children
  • Teething gel
  • Thermos for formula
  • Items to keep kids busy (coloring book and crayons, picture books, y etc.)

Pet Supplies

If you have furry, feather or scaly family members, you’ll need to make an evacuation plan for them ahead of time since many shelters don’t accept pets. If you plan to evacuate with your pets to a relative’s home or hotel, you may want to take:

  • A three-day supply of non-perishable pet food (dry, canned etc.)
  • Blankets or towels
  • A three-day supply of water for each pet
  • Food and water bowls
  • Collar, harness and leash
  • Pet bed
  • Pet crate or carrier
  • Pet chews and training treats
  • Medications (flea medicine, heartworm medicine, etc.)
  • Vet records (vaccinations, rabies tag etc.)
  • Pet wipes
  • Toys and chew toys
  • Poop bags for dogs
  • Litter box and litter for cats

Sentimental Items

You never want to risk your safety by taking time to gather possessions when you’re trying to evacuate in a hurry. But if you plan ahead, you may be able to pack a few sentimental items such as your child’s first drawing or your grandma’s engagement ring. Consider picking the three items that have the most sentimental value to you (as long as they’re easily portable) and packing them ahead of time.

You may be able to pack many of these essential items in advance so they’re ready to gather quickly. You may then want to make a list of items you want to take but can’t pack in advance, like your phones and chargers, so you know what to grab before you go.

Do you have an evacuation kit or list ready? Please comment and let us know. If you already have a kit, let us know if there was anything you forgot to include that you plan to add now.

66 Responses to "What to Take if You Evacuate in an Emergency"
    • Richard Valnes | August 29, 2022 at 3:20 pm

      Please be advised I appreciate this kind of warning and include any pertinent insurance policy s both Home and auto policies;
      Thank You kindly for your help in this matter. The preparation list so very helpful!

    • Maxine G. Richeson | August 18, 2022 at 8:47 pm

      I hadn’t thought of the kitty litter. We do have harnesses for each of them but I need to train them to walk with them. I’ll get on it. No children anymore. Thanks for the clues!

    • Sharon Daniels | August 14, 2022 at 9:54 pm

      I would have forgotten my insurance papers and Vet records. I’m making a list and getting a couple bags to be loaded.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:29 am

        Preparing bags ahead of time is definitely recommended and a good idea. Thanks for commenting!

    • Grace Mayweather | August 14, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      Thank you for caring!! I will pack my bags.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:31 am

        That sounds good, Grace! We’re glad you found the article useful.

    • Stephanie D Izzo | August 13, 2022 at 3:02 pm

      Very good list, thanks. It is complete and I hope I never have to use it, but one never knows.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:36 am

        You’re welcome, Stephanie! We hope you never have to use it either.

        Thanks for reading!

    • Andrew Lasco | August 13, 2022 at 11:40 am

      A tent, big tarp or both. Air mattress(es). A fire steel.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:38 am

        These are great items to pack. Thanks for the comment, Andrew!

      • Jeanene Albert-Sherrod | August 20, 2022 at 2:15 pm

        These are great items to pack. Thank you so much

    • Carlos Ochoa | August 13, 2022 at 10:40 am

      Excellent tips. Thanks.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:39 am

        You’re welcome, Carlos!

    • Dulcie | August 12, 2022 at 1:47 pm

      Difficult to take all this if a family (or single person) has no vehicle available. But, good information for this who can evacuate in a good-sized vehicle.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:44 am

        That’s a good point. Thanks for commenting!

    • Nina Yablok | August 11, 2022 at 7:32 am

      Information on the list like your medications and maps can be on your cell phone… if you put them there. But cell phones die or break, so we make sure both adults in the household have everyone else’s information.

      We also have a list of three meeting spots in case we are not together when we have to “bug out” and three emergency phone numbers to call to get in touch and say you’re safe (2 friends who live elsewhere, and 1 “public” phone number or app like the red cross safe and well program).

      Thanks for the reminder though. It’s time to update supplies.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 8:50 am

        Those are great points, Nina! Thank you for sharing them!

    • nicole Mezadieu | August 9, 2022 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks. This info is very important. I will start gathering what I can and save this page.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 9:42 am

        That’s great, Nicole! We’re glad our article was helpful.

    • Nina Lilienthal-Murphy | August 9, 2022 at 3:35 pm

      This is the most comprehensive evacuation list I have ever seen. I am a Co-founder and Current President of my Neighborhood Association, and I formulated a list about 8 years ago, when I was then President, and I missed so much, especially the baby & pet list, and several other things. This is beyond fantastic and one of the most important lists ALL of us need. It is so important that every person should have this list in hand to prepare for an emergency, so I will pack a few backpacks so we can Grab & Go!!! Thank you so much for this List.
      Being in California, with the wildfires, floods, and earthquakes, it’s OUR job to be prepared and if not, it’s on YOU!!!

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 9:38 am

        We’re glad you found the evacuation list useful for your preparation! Thank you for the nice comment!

    • Bonita | August 9, 2022 at 11:41 am

      The list is great. Would be even nicer, if you could print list, that is made smaller or condensed. I also agree w/comments listed below. Thank you

      • Emily Marx | December 17, 2022 at 12:17 pm

        Ditto: condensed list !

    • BETTY JO MARTIN | August 8, 2022 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you so much for these lists. I had been wondering where to get these lists.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 9:48 am

        We’re happy we could help out and that you found the list helpful!

    • Mima | August 8, 2022 at 1:07 pm

      I went through a hurricane in 1976 and the only thing we took was luggage with clothes and nothing else. We got lucky because the hurricane hit the city next to us, so we came back to our safe house. It is important in case of an emergency to have your stuff and things ready to go – just grab and go. Just in case you need to leave in a moment of fire, hurricane, flooding, ect.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:40 am

        Having your items ready to grab and go is definitely helpful. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences!

    • Ellen Freeman | August 8, 2022 at 10:50 am

      I have a Go Bag already, but am glad to see your list to update pet items and an important document or two that I was missing. Thank you.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:41 am

        You’re welcome, Ellen!

    • Patricia Gautney | August 7, 2022 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks so much. Very helpful and thorough.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:25 am

        You’re welcome, Patricia!

    • Donna Hatten | August 7, 2022 at 10:00 am

      Thank you for alerting me to becoming prepared for a personal disaster, could you add a crank generator to your list.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:43 am

        A crank generator is a great idea! Thanks, Donna!

    • Red | August 7, 2022 at 8:18 am

      Sounds good but now come up with a way to carry all this stuff if you’re faced with: flood, fire or severe snow.

      • Emily Marx | December 17, 2022 at 12:26 pm

        May I suggest you only use Luggage with a pull up bar & sturdy wheels.

        Maybe with a flood or fire & smoke damage, heavy duty plastic bags to securely cover the luggage, too.
        Also for floods: those fisherman bottoms so you can wade in deep water and stay dry!

    • Ruth Davis | August 6, 2022 at 11:35 pm

      Thank You. Very helpful.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:06 am

        You’re welcome, Ruth!

    • Michael | August 6, 2022 at 9:47 pm

      This is an amazing list of items…extremely well thought out…I would imagine these papers and supplies should be positioned in ones home where the items can be used daily, and constantly being updated with fresh, clean, sized, and any dated items. It’s a great list, kind of being able to live out of one of those trunks for ocean trips.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:25 am

        That’s great that you found the list helpful! We appreciate your comment!

    • dorenda morse | August 6, 2022 at 6:56 pm

      It would have been great to have had an option to print the list. As it is, I’ve read it. Good to read.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:46 am

        We’re glad you liked it. We can look into adding a printable version of the list!

    • Constance Smith | August 6, 2022 at 5:22 pm

      Thank you for the heads up. Albeit we live in a pretty safe area of the northwest, Puget Sound, this is a list that I will use. One never expects a forest fire, BUT, one never knows.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:08 am

        You’re welcome, Constance! It’s always good to be prepared.

    • shecee | August 6, 2022 at 4:12 pm

      If you have a printer, copy important documents and put them into a plastic baggie.

      I also suggest packing a supply of plastic baggies and a small container for water for pets.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:10 am

        These are great suggestions. Thank you for sharing them!

    • Don & Linda Smith | August 6, 2022 at 12:18 pm

      Thank you for providing this comprehensive list. Living in southern Oregon we always need to be prepared to evacuate if ordered to do so and this list gives us a good starting point and itemizes things we never would have considered.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:11 am

        You’re welcome. We’re glad our list can help you prepare!

    • jim | August 6, 2022 at 11:18 am

      Is there a printer friendly version of this information?

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 12:00 pm

        We can work on creating a downloadable form to print with information from this article. That’s a great suggestion. Thank you!

    • Richard Glassman | August 6, 2022 at 11:05 am

      When you are a senior in your 70’s & 80’s it makes more sense, especially if you have pets, to take your chances and wait it out…long lines going inland also makes no sense.

    • Bern Dawes | August 6, 2022 at 10:29 am

      OMG. Where do you think all this stuff will fit? in a car?? This list is totally excessive and although it would be nice to be ready to pack up one’s household for a month away, it’s not exactly emergency efficient. But I realize this list is all inclusive — babies, nursing mothers, pets of every kind, old folks need of extra reading glasses, etc. Food, drugs, clothes, blankets, tools, lights, rain gear, and so forth.

    • Mort A | August 6, 2022 at 10:09 am

      Three days of water (one gallon per day) per person could be a logistical problem for the average person. Sporting Good stores sell a water filter straw or a water filtration kit that can be used to reduce the number of gallons of fresh water needed. Provided there is other sources of water available, like a lake, river or pond.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:23 am

        A water filtration straw or kit is a great idea, Mort!

    • Peter Brandt | August 6, 2022 at 10:07 am

      You did not mention a truck to carry all this stuff!

    • mary jane leandro | August 6, 2022 at 10:03 am

      I already have a bin of evacuation needs set up, just added pen and paper. Thanks.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 10:58 am

        You’re welcome! We’re happy to hear our list was helpful.

    • Jeanne | August 6, 2022 at 9:59 am

      I have a bag ready but didn’t include some of the items you listed that are sooo important. Thank you. This is good info.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 11:02 am

        You’re welcome! We’re glad to hear our information was helpful.

    • Belva L Batts | August 6, 2022 at 9:43 am

      Is there a particular container that we should store or pack these items in?

    • Dot Lafontsee | August 6, 2022 at 9:22 am

      Thanks for get tips: Meds, phones, charger, computer, water and food. Pray we never have to evacuate in an emergency.

      • Extra Mile Staff | August 15, 2022 at 12:03 pm

        You’re welcome!

    • Renee Ruderman | August 4, 2022 at 11:11 am

      This list is dandy if, big IF, one has the resources, $$$$, to afford everything, and the time to duplicate and secure everything.

      The list is also a kind of panic button. In this day and age one can’t possibly be prepared for everything.

      • Ruth Davis | August 6, 2022 at 11:37 pm

        Thank You. Very helpful.

      • Sabinus Alexander | August 14, 2022 at 6:23 am

        Thank you

    • slim | August 4, 2022 at 9:21 am

      This list needs to be condensed. all the personal stuff should be put on a disc. All other items must be ready to do in advance and stored in an area where you can pick & go. You may not have to time to gather it in a real evac. Be smart and have it ready!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Queene McClendon | August 8, 2022 at 6:57 pm

        Exactly

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