Getting Ready

An emergency often happens without warning, leaving little or no time for you and your family to plan what to do next. So, it is important for you to learn about the things you can do to be ready - before an emergency happens. Two key things you can do are to make an emergency plan and put together 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. Some of these are described in the next section.
  • Teach children how and when to dial 911.
  • 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 2 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 can't return home.
  • Ask a friend or relative to be your emergency contact person. Make sure everyone has this person's address and phone number, list them on the emergency contact page of this booklet and by each phone. If your family members get separated, they should call this person to tell them where they are.
  • Think about the special safety needs of small children, elderly or disabled relatives or neighbors, and pets.
  • Get an emergency kit ready.

Put Together an Emergency Kit

Preparing an emergency kit ahead of time can save you time in case you must leave home quickly or go without power or water for a while. Put your kit together with items you may need after a disaster, and if you can, try to keep enough supplies on hand to meet your needs for at least 3 days. Store them in sturdy, waterproof, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags or clean, covered trash cans. Things you might try to include or have on hand are:
  • A 3-day supply of water (1 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 1 blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • Small household tools or items such as a battery-powered radio, flashlight with extra batteries, utility/boy scout 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 checks. Keep important family papers (e.g., birth certificates, passports, etc.) in a waterproof container or plastic bag.
  • Sanitation supplies such as toilet paper, handy wipes, feminine products, 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:
    • Alcohol wipes
    • Antacid (for stomach upset)
    • Bandages in assorted sizes
    • Burn cream
    • Cleanser/soap
    • Cotton balls or swabs
    • Gauze pads
    • Latex gloves
    • Non-aspirin pain reliever
    • Oral thermometer
    • Safety pins
    • Scissors
    • Sewing needle
    • Tweezers
    • Your prescription medications