Planning & Prevention

Three Key Steps that Individuals and Families Should Take
to be Properly Prepared for Unexpected Emergencies

Improving our national preparedness is not just a job for the professionals - law enforcement, firefighters and others. All community members should learn about potential threats from natural disasters, as well as terrorism, so that we are all better prepared to take care of ourselves and our families.

While there is no way to predict what will happen, or what your personal circumstances will be, there are simple things you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones.


All of us should be able to survive comfortably on our own for at least a three-day period. This will allow you to shelter in or near your home during a flood or earthquake, or remain in your home until the danger from a biological, chemical or radiological attack has passed. You'll need:

  • A change of clothes
  • Sleeping bags
  • Food and water. A gallon of water per person per day should be enough. Canned and dried foods are easy to store and prepare.

Start now by gathering basic emergency supplies - a flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, prescription medicines and toilet articles. Should you be instructed to do so, duct tape and heavy-duty plastic garbage bags can be used to seal windows and doors. Make sure all household members know where the kit is kept. You should also have a disaster supply kit at your work or in your car.

For more information and an online planning tool for making a kit, visit .


Your family may not be together at home when a disaster occurs. Make sure everyone knows contact numbers and how to get in touch. Set a meeting place where you can gather in case you cannot access your home. Designate an out-of-state friend or relative to call with messages in case local phone lines are blocked.Keep a list of emergency numbers near the phone.

For more information on making plan, click here .


Planning helps. If your family knows what to expect, they will be calmer during and after disaster strikes. For example, you should find out where to turn for instructions, such as local broadcasting networks. Local authorities will broadcast information as quickly as possible concerning the nature of the emergency and what you should do next. Be sure to keep listening for updates.

There are other ways to plan ahead. Take a first aid and CPR class so that you can provide emergency medical help. Review your insurance policies to reduce the economic impact of a potential disaster. Remember to make accommodations for elderly family members and neighbors or those with special needs. Finally, try to make arrangements for pets not allowed in public shelters.

Be aware of potential threats and hazards around your home, work and school. Click this link to insert your address to determine your risk for floods, earthquake and fire.

For more information about Being Informed, click here .

For information from the Red Cross on being prepared, click here .

This New York Times video addresses Earthquake Preparedness after the 1989 San Francisco earthquake. "On Shaky Ground"