Getting Ready

An emergency often happens without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. It is important for you to learn what you can do to be ready before an emergency happens. Two key things you can do to prepare for an emergency include creating an Emergency Plan and an Emergency Kit.

Make  an Emergency Plan

  • Talk with your family about why and how you need to prepare for disaster emergencies.
  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen and what to do in each case.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers.
  • Teach children how and when to dial 911.
  • Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio that automatically alerts when a severe weather watch or warning is issued.
  • Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, children’s school or child care center, and other places where your family spends time away from home; make sure your child’s school or child care center has your current emergency contact number.
  • Pick two places to meet if something happens: one that is right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire; and a second one outside of your neighborhood in case you cannot return home.
  • Ask a friend or relative to be your emergency contact person. Make sure everyone has this person’s address and phone number.. If your family members get separated, they should call this person to tell them where they can be reached.
  • Think about the special safety needs of small children, elderly or disabled relatives or neighbors, and pets.
  • Keep important documents and records in a secure location.
  • Get an Emergency Kit ready (see checklist that follows).

Put Together an Emergency Kit

Things you might try to include or have on hand are:
  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) for drinking and cooking – store in clean plastic soda bottles (milk containers will break down and leak).
  • Food that won’t spoil or need much cooking (e.g., canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, peanut butter, crackers or cookies, and dry mixes like instant oatmeal or soups, rice or noodles). Use or replace them every 6 months if possible.
  • One change of sturdy clothes and shoes, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • Small household tools or items such as a battery-powered radio, flashlight with extra batteries, utility knife, bowls and cups, silverware, can opener, lighter or matches, dishtowel, etc.
  • An extra set of car and house keys, personal identification, and credit cards, cash or traveler’s check. Keep important family papers (e.g., birth certificates, passports, special medical information, etc.) in a waterproof container or plastic bag.
  • Sanitation supplies such as toilet paper, hand wipes, diapers, tampons or sanitary pads, plastic trash bags.
  • Special items for young children, elderly or disabled family members, and pets (e.g., special foods, medications, aid devices, carriers, etc.).
  • A basic first aid kit that includes your prescription medications, bandages in assorted sizes, safety pins, cleanser/soap, latex gloves, gauze pads, scissors, tweezers, sewing needle, thread, alcohol wipes, burn cream, oral thermometer, non-aspirin pain reliever, antacid, cotton balls or swabs.
  • A battery operated radio.