Be Prepared for an Emergency

Fire. Flood. Tornado. Hurricane. Storm surge. Earthquake. You never know when an emergency situation may force you to leave your home or workplace to deal with disaster situations. In the event of a major disaster, you and your family should realistically plan to be self-sufficient for at least seven days before outside resources are available. A little preparation now could save lives and prevent injuries in the future. Escape routes. Every room in your house should have two designated escape routes. The whole family needs to know, understand, and practice the escape routes, especially children. Evacuation plans. Massive evacuations caused by fire, hurricanes, and flooding are becoming more and more common. You may have only minutes to leave. So be ready to move! 

If you know there might be trouble soon, keep a full tank of gas in your car and only take one car per family to evacuate. 

  • Gather disaster supplies and have a battery-powered radio for official evacuation instructions. Don’t forget the extra batteries! 
  • Before you leave, lock up your home and unplug everything except the freezer and refrigerator. 
  •  Let others know where you’re going, 
  • leave early to avoid being trapped, and follow recommended evacuation routes. 
  • Don’t take shortcuts–they may be blocked! 

Family communications

 Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another in emergency situations.  Pick a friend or relative who lives out of state for family members to notify that they are safe. 

Utility shutoff

Every adult needs to know how to shut off the utilities: natural gas, water, and electricity. Because of different gas meter configurations gas may have different shutoff procedures, contact your gas utility for guidance on preparation and response.


Prepare in advance a week’s worth of nonperishable food supplies for every family member. Try to avoid foods that will make you thirsty. Choose salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals, and canned foods with high liquid content. Stock canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples that do not require refrigeration, cooking, water, or special preparation. You may already have many of these on hand. Be sure to include foods that meet special dietary needs. And do not forget a manual can opener! 


Water can become a precious resource after a disaster. Keep an emergency water supply ample enough to meet the needs of the entire family for seven days or longer. Also plan on having enough water to meet your family’s personal hygiene and sanitation needs. 

Important documents

 Store documents such as insurance policies, deeds, birth certificates, and property records in a bank safety deposit box away from home. Make copies for your disaster supply kit. Keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks where you can quickly get to it.

Special needs

 A family member with a disability or a special need may require additional assistance in an emergency. Find out what assistance is available in your community and be sure to inform the local office of emergency services and the fire department about your family’s special needs. 


 If you must evacuate, don’t leave your pets behind! They may not survive on their own, and you may not be able to find them when you return. Create a pet-survival kit that includes essential supplies such as food, water, and medications. For more information, contact the Humane Society of America.

Safety skills 

Family members should know how to administer first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The American Red Cross frequently provides first-aid and CPR classes. Everyone should also know how to use a fire extinguisher; your home should have an ABC-type extinguisher.


You may want to consider having sheltering supplies such as tarps, tents, and sleeping bags ready to go. 

Emergency kit for work

 This kit should be in one container and ready to grab and go in case you are evacuated from your workplace. Besides food and water in the kit, have comfortable walking shoes in case an evacuation requires you to walk long distances. 

Emergency kit for your car

 In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should contain food, water, first-aid supplies, flares, jumper cables, and seasonal supplies.

Change stored food and water supplies in all your kits every six months and write the new date on all containers. You’ll also need to rethink your supply needs every year and update your kit as your family needs change. 

For more information, visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency website: 


the American Red Cross website:, and your community’s emergency service organizations. 

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