Skip to main content

What to pack during an emergency


A major emergency can happen at any time so it's best to be prepared.

Knowing what to have at home, or take with you for an evacuation, can be useful and even life-saving.

From wildfires to infectious disease outbreaks, here is what the Canadian Red Cross and the B.C. government recommend people take with them if they are thrust into potentially life-threatening situations.

You'll need to build or buy a disaster preparedness kit with enough food, water and supplies that can last for at least three days.

Have a bag or backpack ready in an easily accessible area of your home such as a hall closet, garage or spare room.

Here are some recommended essential items for your bag:

  • Bottled water: Each person needs at least four litres per day for drinking and sanitation; pets need about 30 mL of water per kg of body weight per day;
  • Non-perishable food;
  • Manual can opener if you're bringing canned food;
  • Masks and hand sanitizer;
  • Items such as medications, baby products and extra glasses;
  • Important family documents, such as copies of birth and marriage certificates, passports, licences, wills, land deeds and insurance;
  • A copy of your emergency plan;
  • Crank or battery-operated flashlight, with extra batteries;
  • Battery-operated or crank radio;
  • Extra keys for your house and car;
  • First aid kit;
  • Extra cash, including smaller bills;
  • Personal hygiene items;
  • Pet food and pet medication;
  • Cellphone with extra charger or battery pack.

Check your emergency kit every year in case you need to replace supplies.

Other items you can consider packing:

  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person;
  • Plastic sheeting;
  • Garbage bags, twist ties and moist towelettes for personal sanitation;
  • Toilet paper;
  • Inverter;
  • Scissors and a pocket knife;
  • Whistle;
  • Multi-tool or basic tools, such as a hammer, wrench and screwdriver;
  • Duct tape;
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person;
  • Toys, games, books, deck of cards;
  • Paper maps;
  • Easily portable ceremonial items;
  • Traditional foods that may be difficult to find in stores;
  • 'Help' or 'OK' sign to display outside your window during a disaster.

Vehicle emergency preparedness kit

Pack an emergency kit in your vehicle, as well, in case an emergency happens and you get stuck in your car.

These are some recommended items to keep in your car along with your emergency kit:

  • Road maps;
  • Road flares;
  • Work gloves;
  • Windshield washer fluid;
  • Jumper cable or battery pack;
  • Sand, salt or kitty litter;
  • Shovel and ice scraper;
  • De-icer (methyl hydrate);
  • Phone charger.

Have you left your home or are you preparing to do so because of the wildfires? Do you have any advice on what to pack for emergencies? What did you bring and what do you wish you had brought? wants to hear from you.

Share your story by emailing us at with your name, general location and phone number in case we want to follow up. Your comments may be used in a story. Top Stories

Local Spotlight

Peek inside the new dinosaur exhibit opening at UBC

It’s been roughly 66 million years since dinosaurs roamed the earth. And when you see this fossil cast of a daspletosaurus in tight quarters – you wouldn’t want the gap between our times on this planet to be any closer.

Stay Connected