Checking Emergency Supplies

Checking Emergency Supplies

This discussion applies to emergency supplies stored in cargo containers on most school sites.  If your school varies, much of this information may be adapted to the local situation.

Your primary responsibility to follow the instructions of your site principal, who has responsibility for preparedness.

Typically,  your principal may ask you to assure that

You'll be given inventory sheets for all the required items, or you may download them at the bottom of this page. Keep in mind that more than one Emergency Team Kit of a given type may be required at your site, so make sure to get duplicate inventory sheets as required.

Here's an overview of how you may procede:

1. Provide clearly-labeled containers --a large gym bag or plastic container will work in most cases-- for each of the team kits, assemble the supplies on the Team Kit inventories in the corresponding containers as necessary,  and conduct inventory/replenishment on these kits one at a time.   Make sure these kits can be immediately identified and taken as quickly as the cargo container is opened.

2. Assemble replenishment supplies for each team kit in an appropriately sized container,  label the container clearly (for example, "Replenishment First Aid Supplies 1 of 3"), do inventory/replenishment as required, and store the containers appropriately to their role.

3. Put food items in the metal office cabinet supplied.  Make sure that each item is labeled and dated, e.g. "crackers, expires 9/2010".  Store with labels visible.  Even better, attach a sign to the outside of the cabinet listing the date of the first expiration in very large letters.

5.  Use your best judgement about storing (or discarding) supplemental items such a parent donations of blankets, pillows, and games that you find, or ask your principal.

6. Review the cargo container as a whole.  Is it as clean as possible?  Are the supplies safe from contamination and, most importantly, will they remain intact through a strong earthquake?   Provide tie-downs, or ask your principal to do it.

7. Review the cargo container again, from the point of view of an emergency responder (probably a teacher) who needs to enter the container, locate a kit or an item, and leave as quickly as possible.  Remove obstructions.  Add labels or signs as necessary.

About Emergency Supplies

The follow chart summarizes the all emergency supplies commonly stored at Palo Alto school sites:

Items Applicable to

Storage Location(s)

Team Kits All Schools

Cargo Container,

Main Office

Pre-packed containers of supplies, ready for quick pick-up by each emergency team.
Team Kit Replenishments All Schools Cargo Container Additional supplies for replenishment of Team Kits.

Classroom Backpacks

("Red Backpacks")

Primary Schools All Instructional Rooms First aid kit to accompany students at evacuations and during field trips.

Emergency Cart

("Crash Cart", ("Radio Cart")

All Schools In or near the Main Office A rolling cart containing District radio, documents, and other supplies, to be used as a control center during any emergency.

"Checking Emergency Supplies" means you'll mainly be concerned with items stored in Cargo Containers, but as a site volunteer you'll very likely be involved in checking Classroom Backpacks, too, and you should be aware of additional supplies stored in the main office.


Location Item Personnel Assigned How Many?
Cargo Container       
   Team Kit    
    First Aid Team 1
    Search and Rescue Team(s)

Primary: 1

Secondary: 2

    Utilities and Hazards Team 1
    Traffic Control/Security Team 1
    Student Release Team 1
    Sanitation Team 1
    Food and Water Team 1
    Shelter Team 1
Main Office Team Kit Command Center  Team 1
Each Instructional Room* First Aid Backpack Teachers (per site)


Team Teams per site Storage Location of Team Kit(s)
Command Center 1 In or near the site’s Main Office.
First Aid 1 Cargo Container
Search and Rescue

Primary: 1

Secondary: 2

Cargo Container
Utilities and Hazards  1 Cargo Container
Traffic Control/Security 1 Cargo Container
Student Release 1 Cargo Container
Sanitation 1 Cargo Container
Food and Water 1 Cargo Container
Shelter 1 Cargo Container


Quick deployment, convenient storage, and easy inventorying are conflicting objectives, and you may need to

In general, you should not

Getting Connected



Standard Contents


Overall -- Final -- Follow-up



Emergency First Aid Team

Search and Rescue Teams

Utilities and Hazards Team

Student Release Team

Sanitation Team

Food and Water Use Team

Shelter Team


The big problem is that


The emergency supplies at each elementary school are stored in padlocked cargo containers somewhere on the school site, typically in an outlying area.

The contents of the cargo containers (also know as "sheds" or "arks") are:



general supplies


emergency cart

Other sites may have different supplies.

Final questions


Emergency Supplies Inspection

All schools have emergency supplies.  

Are the quantities appropriate for your site?


Storage will withstand earthquakes -- shelves secure?  Water barrels tied down?  Other object might move into path?


Off-inventory items (cherios, etc.)

More than one team for some functions

make tags -- offices have supplies to laminate


What about the Classroom Backpacks?

Aren't the Classroom Backpacks "supplies," too?

Yes, actually, the backpacks are also supplies kept in numerous other places besides the cargo container.  In practice, though, they are maintained independently.   It's a little less confusing -- hopefully.

What about substitutions?

You may find item 'a' apparently substituted for item 'b'.  Is the function the same?   Will the person using the item immediately recognize the substituted item, and be able to use it with equal ease.   You probably can make decisions yourself about some substitutions with minor differences.  Feel free to consult your principal about this issue. 

How often should the water be replaced?

Some kits include small bottles of water.   There's no government standard for PET/PETE bottles, but the generally accepted shelf-life is 1 year.   For water barrels...

What about extra inventory?

It doesn't hurt to have extras of inventory items, within reason.   Extra batteries or toilet paper may come in handy, if not at the time of an emergency, to fill out the contents of a specific kit or a classroom backpack.   But keep in mind that these items require checking and space, so try to be reasonable.

You mean it is OK to take supplies from the cargo container to fill backpacks?

Only if the supplies you are taking are in excess of what's required.   Don't borrow from Stores or kits for backpacks.

What about non-inventory items?

Use common sense.  Some people have donated cotton blankets (excellent comfort items!), games, and stuffed animals. These will be invaluable for smaller children traumatized by a major emergency.   Extra food items (Cheerios is a popular item) are probably OK, but use care with supplementary medical supplies -- a carton of cartoon bandages makes sense, but a medication or implement that requires beyond basic first aid skills to use probably does not.

What about storing team kits in classrooms?

Some sites apparently store team kits in classrooms rather than in cargo containers.     The advantage of this is quicker deployment of individuals to team jobs and a better chance for substitute teachers to participate in response activities. The advantages of storing in the containers is supporting centralized inventory-taking,  gathering entire teams at an obvious meeting place, and bigger, more appropriate storage for response supplies.  

How many of item 'x' do we really need?

Do I inventory to "Usual Packaging" or "Req'd Qty"?

They don't make the 64 oz size anymore, how do I replace those?

"Usual Packaging" is for reference only, to help you and school personnel visualize items.   Inventory and replenish the amounts listed as "Req'd" (Required). Note that packaging sizes change over time, and you may be faced with some minor calculations to figure out how many of the new packages are required to replace the previous ones.  Keep your attention on the number of servings provided and make sure your replacement products equal or exceed the number provided by the item you are replacing.


Download Documents

(click on icon to download)

 Staff Response Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Emergency First Aid Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Search and Rescue Teams Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Utilities and Hazards Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Student Release Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Sanitation Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Food and Water Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb
Shelter Team Supplies Inventory
 "????.pdf" ?.? Kb



School Safety