Shelter in Place

“Shelter-in-place” is another way of saying “stay inside.” It’s a way to keep safe during any type of emergency, such as a storm, power outage, police activity, pandemic or after an earthquake.

If you’re told to stay where you are during an emergency, being prepared will help you and your family. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. 

72 hours vs. 2 weeks

Until recently, emergency preparedness guides typically recommended having 72 hours worth of supplies. Surviving for 72 hours is better than nothing, but most modern experts believe you should be prepared for at least two weeks in order to handle the majority of likely events.

Some groups, like the Red Cross, have updated their suggestions; their site now says, “3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home.”

Home checklist summary

  • 3-5 days of water: store roughly 1 gallon per person and per day, and have ways to treat dirty water via either a portable water filter or counter-top water filter.
  • 3-5 days of food: at least 1,500 calories per person and per day. Select shelf-stable food that’s ready to eat or only needs boiling water to make.
  • Fire: lighters, matches, and backup fire starters.
  • Light: headlamps, flashlights, candles, lanterns.
  • Heating and cooling: indoor-safe heaters, extra blankets, USB-powered fan.
  • Shelter: a cheap tarp comes in handy for improvised shelter, plugging holes in the house, and clearing debris.
  • Hygiene: wet wipes, hand sanitizer, soap.
  • Communication: either a one-way NOAA radio or a two-way FRS, GMRS or ham radio (if you know how to use it, if not check our section on Emergency Radios).
  • Power: spare batteries and chargers.
  • Tools: axe, shovel, work gloves, wrench for your gas lines, zip ties, duct tape, etc.
  • Self defense: Items may depends on personal views.
  • Cash (preferably one, five, ten and twenty dollar bills).
  • Games: board games, books, headphones, movies downloaded to a tablet, etc.
  • Documents: copy of deeds/titles, insurance policies, birth certificates, maps, pictures of family members, etc. in both physical and USB thumb drive forms.
  • Local & emergency info: write down important contact numbers, know the location of the nearest hospitals, etc.

Medical supplies

  • Adhesive tape.
  • Elastic wrap bandages.
  • Bandage strips and “butterfly” bandages in assorted sizes.
  • Rubber tourniquet.
  • Nonstick sterile bandages and roller gauze in assorted sizes.
  • Eye shield or pad.
  • Large triangular bandage (may be used as a sling).
  • Instant cold packs.
  • Cotton balls and cotton-tipped swabs.
  • Disposable examination gloves.
  • Petroleum jelly or other lubricant.
  • Plastic bags, assorted sizes.
  • Safety pins in assorted sizes.
  • Scissors and tweezers.
  • Hand sanitizer.
  • Antibiotic ointment.
  • Antiseptic solution and towelettes.
  • Eyewash solution.
  • Thermometer and oximeter.
  • Turkey baster or other bulb suction device for flushing wounds.
  • Sterile saline for irrigation, flushing.
  • Breathing barrier (surgical mask).
  • Syringe, medicine cup or spoon.
  • First-aid manual.
  • Hydrogen peroxide to disinfect.


  • Anti-diarrhea medication.
  • Laxative.
  • Antacids.
  • Antihistamine.
  • Hydrocortisone cream.
  • Cough and cold medications.
  • Auto-injector of epinephrine, if prescribed by your doctor.
  • Pain relievers, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others). Consider keeping aspirin (never give aspirin to children).

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed. Store items in a cool, dry place and replace expired items as needed.

Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.