Department of Emergency Management and Security

CONTACT INFORMATION: Open during regular business hours 8 a.m. - 4:30p.m., Monday - Friday
4890 Alliance Drive, Suite 2200, Fairfax, VA 22030
Seamus Mooney

Make an Emergency Kit


Emergency kits of various types are essential resources in an emergency. These include kits for sheltering-in-place at home, evacuating (variously known as a "go kit," "go bag," "grab-and-go-bag," or "bug-out bag."

Emergency kits include basic supplies and are tailored to every person's need. You will need additional supplies if your household has children, seniors, individuals with access and functional needs, or pets. Kits should be kept in a water-resistant container or a sturdy, transportable bag, and stored in locations where they will be both useful and accessible when needed:

• Shelter-in-place emergency supply kit: in a secure location in your home or at work.
• Evacuation go bag: a convenient place for evacuation, like a garage or near your front door.
• Vehicle kit: one in each vehicle.

Remember that your kits' contents can overlap in a disaster- if you are sheltering at home, you will have access to all of your kits. If you have to evacuate from home, you will only have your vehicle kit and any go bag you can grab. If disaster strikes while you are out, your vehicle kit may be all you have.

Fairfax County recommends every household keep three to five day's worth of food, water, and supplies in their shelter-in-place kits for each member of the household.

What Should go into Your Kits?

  • Water
  • Food
  • Disposable kitchenware
  • Plastic zipper-lock bags
  • Weather-appropriate clothes
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Items for kids
  • Toiletries
    • Soap
    • Washcloths
    • Toothpaste
    • Shampoo
    • Male and female hygiene products
    • Toilet paper
  • Basic survival gear:
    • Matches
    • Zip-ties
    • Duct tape
    • Multi-tool or pocket knife
  • Cell phone chargers
  • NOAA Weather Radios
  • Flashlights
  • First Aid Kit
  • Work gear
  • Important household documents
  • Cash
  • Medications


  • A list of types and model numbers of any needed medical devices.
  • Documentation of all relevant health information, including physician contact information.
  • Any assistive technology you might need, along with instructions for use.
  • Extra wheelchair batteries.
  • Oxygen.
  • Catheters.
  • Medication, including arrangements for anything that needs to be refrigerated.
  • Food for service animals.

  • Diapers and formula for infants and toddlers.
  • Favorite snacks.
  • Toys, books, "lovies" and other items to provide both diversion and comfort - if you think emergencies and relocation are stressful for adults, just imagine being a child.

  • Pet food, treats, and water for at least three days.
  • Litter, litter box, newspapers, paper towels, and plastic trash bags.
  • Grooming items/sanitary wipes.
  • Household bleach.
  • Toys, leashes, harnesses, and carriers.
  • Medications or medical records.
  • A crate if appropriate for your cat or dog; a cage is necessary for any other kind of pet.

Maintain Your Emergency Kit(s)

After assembling your kit, remember to maintain it so it's ready when needed.

  • Check the out-dates on your food and water twice a year: when your clock "falls back" and "springs forward" (when you replace the batteries in your smoke alarms).
  • Test batteries in flashlights and radios every three months.
  • Check the expiration dates on medications twice a year.
  • Re-think your gear needs every season and replace seasonal items such as clothing and shoes (or pack your kit for four-season use); be sure your emergency kits stays age-appropriate to your children as they get older.
Fairfax Virtual Assistant