are 30 tips to help you and your family become better prepared for
Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency, like a fire
in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are the
best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways
out of each room. Now, write it down — you’ve
got the beginning of a plan
Pick a place to meet after a disaster. Designate two meeting
places. Choose one right outside your home, in case of a sudden
household emergency, such as a fire. The second place you choose
needs to be outside your neighborhood, in the event that it is not
safe to stay near or return to your home.
Choose an emergency contact person outside your area because it
may be easier to call long distance than locally after a local/regional
disaster. Take a minute now to call or e-mail an out-of-town friend
or family member to ask him or her to be your family¡¯s designated
contact in the event of an emergency. Be sure to share the contact's
phone number with everyone in the family. During an emergency, you
can call your contact who can share with other family members where
you are; how you are doing; and how to get in contact with you.
Complete an emergency contact card and make copies for each member
of your family to carry with them. Be sure to include an out-of-town
contact on your contact card. It may be easier to reach someone
out of town if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded.
You should also have at least one traditionally wired landline phone,
as cordless or cellular phones may not work in an emergency. Visit
for sample emergency contact cards.
Dogs may be man¡¯s best friend, but due to health regulations, most
emergency shelters cannot house animals. Find out in advance how
to care for your pets and working animals when disaster strikes.
Pets should not be left behind, but could be taken to a veterinary
office, family member¡¯s home or animal shelter during an emergency.
Also be sure to store extra food and water for pets. For more
information, visit the Animal Safety section on www.redcross.org
or visit the Humane Society Web site at www.hsus.org
Go through your calendar now, and put a reminder on it — every
six months — to review your plan, update numbers, and check
supplies to be sure nothing has expired, spoiled, or changed. Also
remember to practice your tornado, fire escape or other disaster
Check your child¡¯s school Web site or call the school office to
request a copy of the school¡¯s emergency plan. Keep a copy at home
and work or other places where you spend a lot of your time and
make sure the school¡¯s plan is incorporated into your family¡¯s
emergency plan. Also, learn about the disaster plans at your
workplace or other places where you and your family spend time.
Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency
Medical Services number for help. Post these and other emergency
telephone numbers by telephones.
Practice. Conduct fire drills and practice evacuating your home
twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate
routes on a map in case main roads are blocked or gridlocked. Practice
earthquake and tornado drills at home, school and work. Commit a
weekend to update telephone numbers, emergency supplies and review
your plan with everyone.
A community working together during an emergency makes sense.
- Talk to your neighbors
about how you can work together during an emergency.
- Find out if anyone
has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise
such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
- Decide who will check
on elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Make back-up plans
for children in case you can't get home in an emergency.
Sharing plans and communicating
in advance is a good strategy
What if disaster strikes while you’re at work? Do you know
the emergency preparedness plan for your workplace? While many companies
have been more alert and pro-active in preparing for disasters of
all types since the September 11, 2001 attacks, a national survey
indicates that many employees still don’t know what their
workplace plan is for major or minor disasters. If you don’t
know yours, make a point to ask. Know multiple ways to exit your
building, participate in workplace evacuation drills, and consider
keeping some emergency supplies at the office. Visit www.ready.gov
and click on Ready Business for more information about business
You should keep enough supplies in your home to meet the
needs of you and your family for at least three days. Build an emergency
supply kit to take with you in an evacuation. The basics to stock
in your portable kit include: water, food, battery-powered radio
and flashlight with extra batteries, first aid supplies, change
of clothing, blanket or sleeping bag, wrench or pliers, whistle,
dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape, trash bags, map, a manual
can opener for canned food and special items for infants, elderly,
the sick or people with disabilities. Keep these items in an easy
to carry container such as a covered trash container, a large backpack,
or a duffle bag.
Preparing for emergencies needn’t be expensive if you’re
thinking ahead and buying small quantities at a time. Make a list
of some foods that:
- Have a long shelf-life
and will not spoil (non-perishable).
- You and your family
- Do not require cooking.
- Can be easily stored.
- Have a low salt content
as salty foods will make you more thirsty.
Keep the list in your purse or wallet and pick up a few items each
time you’re shopping and/or see a sale until you have built
up a well-stocked supply that can sustain each member of your family
for at least three days following an emergency.
Take a minute to check your family’s first aid kit, and note
any depleted items — then, add them to your shopping list.
Don’t have a first aid kit? Add that to the list or build
a kit yourself. Just add the following items to your shopping list
and assemble a first aid kit. Consider creating a kit for each vehicle
First Aid Kits - Assemble
a first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
- (20) adhesive bandages,
- (1) 5" x 9"
- (1) conforming roller
- (2) triangular bandages
- (2) 3 x 3 sterile
- (2) 4 x 4 sterile
- (1) roll 3"
- (2) germicidal hand
wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- (6) antiseptic wipes
- (2) pair large medical
grade non-latex gloves
- Adhesive tape, 2"
- Anti-bacterial ointment
- Cold pack
- Scissors (small,
- CPR breathing barrier,
such as a face shield
- First Aid Manual
- Aspirin or non-aspirin
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach
- Syrup of Ipecac (use
to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Activated charcoal
(use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Prescription drugs,
as recommended by your physician, and copies of the prescriptions
in case they need to be replaced
For more information
about first aid kits, visit www.redcross.org.
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person. Store a minimum
of one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking,
two quarts for food preparation and sanitation). Store water in
plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers
that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles.
A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water
each day. Hot environments and strenuous activity can double that
amount. Children, nursing mothers, and people who are sick will
also need more.
One of the easiest ways you can prepare for emergencies is to keep
some supplies readily available. Every kit is unique and can be
tailored to meet the specific needs of your family, but below is
a general list of supplies you may want to consider:
Tools and Supplies (Essential
Items are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Mess kits, or paper
cups, plates, and plastic utensils
- Emergency preparedness
manual and a copy of your disaster plan, including your emergency
radio and extra batteries*
- Flashlight and extra
- Cash or traveler's
- Non-electric can
opener, utility knife*
- Fire extinguisher:
small ABC type stored near where fires are likely to occur such
as a kitchen, or near a fireplace. It should not be kept in the
disaster supplies kit.
- Tube tent
- Duct Tape*
- Matches in a waterproof
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil*
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Shut-off wrench or
pliers, to turn off household gas and water
- Plastic sheeting*
- Map of the area (for
locating shelters and evacuation routes)
(Continued in the next
Also include items for sanitation in your emergency supply kit.
Consider the following:
Items are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Toilet paper, towelettes*
- Soap, liquid detergent*
- Feminine supplies*
- Personal hygiene
- Plastic garbage bags,
ties (for personal sanitation uses)*
- Plastic bucket with
- Household chlorine
the next tip)
Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per
person in your emergency supply kit. We suggest long pants
and long sleeves for additional protection after a disaster.
Clothing and Bedding
(Essential Items are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Sturdy shoes or work
- Rain gear*
- Blankets or sleeping
- Hat and gloves
- Thermal underwear
You should also keep a smaller version of your emergency
supply kit in your vehicle, in case you are commuting or traveling
when disaster strikes.
Emergency Kit For Your
- Bottled water and
non-perishable high energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins
and peanut butter
- Flashlight and extra
- Booster cables
- Fire extinguisher
(5 lb., A-B-C type)
- First aid kit and
- Tire repair kit and
- Flares or other emergency
Teach children how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. Review
emergency action steps with all family members:
- Check the scene and
- Call 9-1-1 or your
local emergency number posted by the telephone
- Care for the victim
Help your children learn
more about emergencies. Download this
preparedness coloring book. or visit Red Cross' "Masters
Read the information on your city, county and/or state government
Web sites as well as the ¡°Be Prepared¡± section of www.redcross.org
and print emergency preparedness information. Be sure to keep a
copy with your disaster supplies kit. It can provide telephone numbers,
addresses and other information you need when electronic connections
are not available options for obtaining the information.
When water is of questionable purity, it is easiest to
use bottled water for drinking and cooking if it is available. When
it’s not available, it is important to know how to treat contaminated
water. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, water from questionable
sources may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms, including,
bacteria and parasites that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera,
typhoid, and hepatitis. All water of uncertain purity should be
treated before use. Use one or a combination of these treatments:
- Filter: Filter
the water using a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove solid
- Boil: Bring
it to a rolling boil for about one full minute. Cool it and pour
it back and forth between two clean containers to improve its
taste before drinking it.
- Add 16 drops
(1/8 teaspoon) of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water.
Stir to mix. Sodium hypochlorite of the concentration of 5.25%
to 6% should be the only active ingredient in the bleach.
There should not be any added soap or fragrances. A major
bleach manufacturer has also added Sodium Hydroxide as an
active ingredient, which they state does not pose a health
risk for water treatment.
- Let stand 30
- If it smells
of chlorine. You can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine,
add 16 more drops (1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach per gallon
of water, let stand 30 minutes, and smell it again. If it
smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell of
chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
Flood water can also
be contaminated by toxic chemicals. Do NOT try to treat flood water.
In some emergencies you may be required to turn off your utilities.
To prepare for this type of event:
- Locate the electric,
gas and water shut-off valves.
- Keep necessary
tools near gas and water shut-off valves
- Teach adult family
members how to turn off utilities.
If you turn off the
gas, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this
Understand that during an emergency you may be asked to “shelter-in-place”
or evacuate. Plan for both possibilities and be prepared to listen
to instructions from your local emergency management officials.
Visit Ready.gov and www.redcross.org/preparedness for more information
A disaster can cause significant financial loss. Your apartment
or home may be severely damaged or destroyed. You may be forced
to live in temporary housing. Income may be cut off or significantly
reduced. Important financial records could be destroyed. Take the
time now to assess your situation and ask questions.
To help you, consider
using the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a tool developed
by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps or contact your local
Red Cross chapter for Disasters and Financial Planning: A Guide
Learn if earthquakes are a risk in your area by contacting your
local emergency management office, local American Red Cross chapter,
or state geological survey or department of natural resources. Information
about earthquake risk is also available from the U.S. Geological
Survey National Seismic Hazards project.
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural disasters
in terms of human hardship and economic loss. As much as 90 percent
of the damage related to all natural disasters (excluding draught)
is caused by floods and associated debris flow. Most communities
in the United States can experience some kind of flooding. Melting
snow can combine with rain in the winter and early spring; severe
thunderstorms can bring heavy rain in the spring or summer; or hurricanes
can bring intense rainfall to coastal and inland states in the summer
and fall. Regardless of how a flood occurs, the rule for being safe
is simple: head for higher ground and stay away from floodwater.
Even a shallow depth of fast-moving floodwater produces more force
than most people imagine. You can protect yourself by being prepared
and having time to act. Local radio or television stations or a
NOAA Weather Radio are the best sources of information in a flood
When there is concern about a potential exposure to a chemical or
other airborne hazard, local officials may advise you to "shelter-in-place
¡° and ¡°seal the room.¡± This is different from taking shelter
on the lowest level of your home in case of a natural disaster like
a tornado. If you believe the air may be badly contaminated or if
you are instructed by local officials, follow the instructions below
to create a temporary barrier between you and the contaminated air
- Close and lock all
windows and exterior doors.
- Turn off all fans,
heating and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace
- Get your disaster
supplies kit and turn on your battery-powered radio.
- Go to an interior
room that is above ground level and without windows, if possible.
In the case of a chemical threat, an above-ground location is
preferable because some chemicals are heavier than air, and may
seep into basements even if the windows are closed.
- If directed by local
authorities on the radio, use duct tape to seal all cracks around
the door and any vents into the room. Tape plastic sheeting, such
as heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, over any windows.
- Listen to your radio
or television for further instructions. Local officials will tell
you when you can leave the room in which you are sheltering, or
they may call for evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk
in your community
If there is an explosion:
- Take shelter against
your desk or a sturdy table.
- Exit the building
- Do not use elevators.
- Check for fire and
- Take your emergency
supply kit if time allows.
If there is a fire:
- Exit the building
- If there is smoke,
crawl under the smoke to the nearest exit and use a cloth, if
possible, to cover your nose and mouth.
- Use the back of your
hand to feel the upper, lower, and middle parts of closed doors.
- If the door is not
hot, brace yourself against it and open slowly.
- If the door is hot,
do not open it. Look for another way out.
- Do not use elevators.
- If your clothes catch
on fire, stop-drop-and-roll to put out the fire. Do not run.
- If you are at home,
go to your previously designated outside meeting place.
- Account for your
family members and carefully supervise small children.
- GET OUT and STAY
OUT. Never go back into a burning building.
- Call 9-1-1 or your
local emergency number.
Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may or may not be immediately
obvious. Most likely local health care workers will report a pattern
of unusual illness or a wave of sick people seeking medical attention.
The best source of information will be radio or television reports.
Understand that some
biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases.
Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can
catch from other people.
In the event of a biological
attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide
information on what you should do. It will take time to determine
exactly what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who may
have been exposed. You should watch TV, listen to the radio, or
check the Internet for official news including the following:
- Are you in the group
or area authorities believe may have been exposed?
- What are the signs
and symptoms of the disease?
- Are medications or
vaccines being distributed?
- Where? Who should
get them and how?
- Where should you
seek emergency medical care if you become sick?
During a declared biological
If you are potentially
- Follow instructions
of doctors and other public health officials.
- If the disease is
contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
You may be advised to stay away from others or even deliberately
- For non-contagious
diseases, expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
If you become aware
of an unusual and suspicious substance nearby:
- Quickly get away.
- Protect yourself.
Cover your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter
the air but still allow breathing. Examples include two to three
layers of cotton such as a t-shirt, handkerchief or towel. Otherwise,
several layers of tissue or paper towels may help.
- Wash with soap and
- Contact authorities.
- Watch TV, listen
to the radio, or check the Internet for official news and information
including what the signs and symptoms of the disease are, if medications
or vaccinations are being distributed and where you should seek
medical attention if you become sick.
- If you become sick
seek emergency medical attention.
page was last modified on September 18, 2006
Information from www.dhs.gov
Tips for Emergency Preparedness