Preparing for Disasters

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning.  It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. Individuals and families can - and do - cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team.  The following resources may help you in preparation for an emergency.

 Create a Disaster Plan 

Learn about disaster plans

  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet. One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. The other, is outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Remain aware of your location - this includes familiar landmarks and crossing streets.
  • Develop a communication plan by writing down emergency contact information & have extra electronic device chargers on hand. Need ideas on how to list contact information? Check out this Emergency Information Worksheet.
  • Arrange for an out-of-state friend or family member contact.  After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distances. Texts are more likely to go through. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Communication Plan

Disaster Supply Kit

Build Kits

Build a kit that - plan to be on your own for at least two weeks.  Include in the kit non-perishable foods, water, a first aid kit, sturdy shoes, warm clothes, a NOAA alert radio, flashlights, extra batteries, and items for entertainment.

Additional items to consider: 
  • Personal items: toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, glasses, feminine supplies, infant supplies.
  • Tools and supplies: pliers, compass, aluminum foil, flares, wrench to shut off utilities, matches, pencil and paper, whistle, shelter tarps, dust mask, and work gloves, plastic garbage bags and ties.
  • Include bedding and at least one complete change of clothes and footwear for all household members.
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container in your home and keep copies in your disaster kit: Wills, insurance policies, bank account numbers, passports, social security cards, immunization records, credit card numbers, phone numbers, and birth/marriage/death certificates.
  • Keep a 14-day supply of vital medications on hand at all times. Remember to plan for power-dependent medical equipment.
  • Rotate the food supply every six months.
  • Extra food, drinking water, supplies, and medicines for your pets.
  • Maintain and know how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Learn how to build a kit on a budget.
  • To learn more about NOAA Weather Radios, visit: 

Know How & Where To Turn Off Utilities 

Check your building

Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.  Learn more about this on the EMD YouTube channel. 
Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. 
NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Inspect Your Home For Potential Hazards

During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.

Help Each Other
Help each other

Consider forming a neighborhood group, attend free disaster skills workshops, and discuss how you'll help people and pets who normally rely on you.

Preparedness Checklists & Information Sheets

Preparing Makes Sense