Are You Prepared?

Be Prepared For Any Emergency

The next time disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Prepare now for a sudden emergency. Learn how to protect yourself and cope with disaster by planning ahead.

Family Discussion

Discuss these ideas with your family, and then prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it--on the refrigerator or bulletin board.

Helpful Preparedness Guidelines

  • Create an Emergency Plan
  • Meet with household members. Discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, and other emergencies.
  • Discuss how to respond to each disaster that could occur.
  • Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
  • Learn how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones.
  • Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.

Pick two meeting places.

  • A place near your home in case of a fire. A place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after a disaster.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster (it is often easier to call out-of-state than within the affected area).

Prepare a Disaster Supplies Kit

Assemble supplies you might need in an evacuation. Store them in an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or duffle bag.


  • A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes.
  • A supply of water (one gallon per person, per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Identify the storage date and replace every six months.
  • Blankets or sleeping bags.
  • A dust mask to filter the air.
  • A first aid kit
  • An extra pair of glasses.
  • A battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
  • A 3-day supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food.
  • A non-electric can opener.
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation.
  • Whistle to signal for help.
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place.
  • Unique family needs such as prescription medicine, infant formula, diapers and important family documents.

Don’t Forget:

  • Credit cards and cash.
  • An extra set of car keys.
  • A list of family physicians.
  • A list of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices, such as pacemakers.
  • Special items you might need.

Create an Escape Plan

Deciding to Stay or Go

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is immediate danger.

In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. If you're specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.

Staying Put

Whether you are at home, work or elsewhere, there may be situations when it's simply best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. There are other circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as "sealing the room," is a matter of survival. Use available information to assess the situation. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to take this kind of action.

Getting Away

There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away, or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Plan how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.

In a fire or other emergency you may need to evacuate your home on a moment's notice.

  • Identify the location of doors, windows, stairways, and large furniture
  • Know the location of emergency supplies (Disaster Supply Kit), Fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, collapsible ladders, first aid kits, and utility shut off points

If You Need to Evacuate

  • Listen to a battery-powered radio for the location of emergency shelters
  • Follow instructions of local officials
  • Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes
  • Take your Disaster Supply Kit
  • Lock your home
  • Use travel routes specified by local officials

If you are sure you have time...

  • Shut off water, gas, and electricity if instructed to do so
  • Let others know when you left and where you are going
  • Make arrangements for pets. Animals are not allowed in public shelters.
This page last updated on 4/27/2014.