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. This checklist will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family, then prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it-on the refrigerator or bulletin board. For additional information about how to prepare for hazards in your community, contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and your American Red Cross chapter.
Learn helpful tips (PDF) in regards to taking care of your pets in the case of an emergency.
Family Protection Program
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Family Protection Program and the American Red Cross' Disaster Education Program are nationwide efforts to help citizens prepare for disasters of all types. For more information, please contact your local emergency management or civil defense office, and your local American Red Cross chapter. Start planning now. Request free family protection publications by writing to:
P.O. Box 70274
Washington, D.C. 20024.
Ask for: "Are You Ready?", "Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit" and "Emergency Food and Water Supplies."
- Call Your Emergency Management Office or American Red Cross Chapter
- Ask about special assistance for elderly or disabled persons.
- Ask how to prepare for each disaster.
- Ask how you would be warned of an emergency.
- Ask your workplace about emergency plans.
- Find out which disasters could occur in your area.
- Learn about emergency plans for your children's school or day care center.
- Learn your community's evacuation routes.
- Create an Emergency Plan
- Discuss how to respond to each disaster that could occur.
- Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
- Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room.
- Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
- Keep family records in a water-and fire-proof container.
- Learn how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
- Meet with household members. Discuss with children the dangers of fire, severe weather, earthquakes, and other emergencies.
- 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).
- 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.
- Post emergency telephone numbers near telephones.
- Take a Basic First Aid and CPR Class
- Teach children how and when to call 911, police, and fire.
- Teach children how to make long distance telephone calls.
- 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. Include:
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
- Blankets or sleeping bags.
- A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes.
- Credit cards and cash.
- An extra pair of glasses.
- An extra set of car keys.
- A first aid kit and prescription medications.
- A list of family physicians.
- A list of important family information; the style and serial number of medical devices, such as pacemakers.
- Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members.
- A supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
- 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.
In a fire or other emergency, you may need to evacuate your house, apartment, or mobile home on a moment's notice. You should be ready to get out fast.
Draw an Escape Plan
Develop an escape plan by drawing a floor plan of your residence. Using a black or blue pen, show the location of doors, windows, stairways, and large furniture. Indicate the location of emergency supplies (Disaster Supplies Kit) such as:
- Collapsible Ladders
- First Aid Kits
- Smoke Detectors
- Utility Shut off Points Fire Extinguishers
Two Escape Routes
Next, use a colored pen to draw a broken line charting at least two escape routes from each room. Finally, mark a place outside of the home where household members should meet in case of fire. Be sure to include important points outside, such as:
If your home has more than two floors, use an additional sheet of paper. Practice emergency evacuation drills with all household members at least two times each year.
Home Hazard Hunt
- Brace overhead light fixtures.
- Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors, and gas vents.
- Fasten shelves securely.
- Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
- In a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury and damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a potential hazard.
- Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
- Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
- Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations.
- Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
- Secure water heater. Strap to wall studs.
- Store weed killers, pesticides, and flammable products away from heat sources.
If You Need to Evacuate
- Follow instructions of local officials.
- Listen to a battery-powered radio for the location of emergency shelters.
- Lock your home.
- Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Use travel routes specified by local officials.
- Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
If You Are Sure You Have Time
- Let others know when you left and where you are going.
- Make arrangements for pets. Animals are not be allowed in public shelters.
- Shut off water, gas, and electricity, if instructed to do so.
Prepare an Emergency Car Kit
Include the following:
- Battery powered radio and extra batteries
- Booster cables
- Bottled water and non-perishable high energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins and peanut butter.
- Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
- First aid kit and manual
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Tire repair kit and pump
To be prepared for a fire you should do the following:
- Change batteries at least once a year.
- Check electrical outlets. Do not overload outlets.
- Consider installing home sprinklers.
- Have a collapsible ladder on each upper floor of your house.
- Install smoke detectors. Clean and test smoke detectors once a month.
- Keep a whistle in each bedroom to awaken household members in case of fire.
- Plan two escape routes out of each room.
- Purchase a fire extinguisher (5 pound, A-B-C type).
- Teach family members never to open doors that are hot. In a fire, feel the bottom of the door with the palm of your hand. If it is hot, do not open the door. Find another way out.
- Teach family members to stay low to the ground when escaping from a fire.