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Disaster Preparation

Emergency Supplies:

Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffel bags, or covered trash containers.


  • A three-day supply of food that will not spoil and water (one gallon per person per day).
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person.
  • One blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • A first-aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools.
  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of batteries.
  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
  • Sanitation supplies.
  • Special items for infants, elderly or disabled family members.
  • Extra eyeglasses.

Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.

Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.

Complete This Checklist:

  • Post emergency phone numbers by telephones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off water and utilities at the main switches.
  • Review insurance policies to be sure you have adequate coverage.
  • Show family members where the fire extinguishers (ABC type) are located and how to use them.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home and find two ways out of each room.

Prepare in Advance: Create a Disaster Plan

  • Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster.
  • Explain the dangers of fire and severe weather to children; plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen and explain what to do in each case.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your family contact. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person to say 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.

Practice and Maintain Your Plan:

  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every 6 months.
  • Test and recharge fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
  • Test smoke detectors monthly and change batteries at least once a year.


Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn off these utilities and teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

If Disaster Strikes:

  • Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
  • Check for injuries.
  • Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio for news and instructions.

Check for Damage in Your Home:

  • Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches if you suspect damage.
  • Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
  • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities.
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids.

Remember to:

  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact. Do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.


  • Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
  • Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
  • Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your Disaster Supplies Kit.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities. Do not use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.

If you are sure you have time:

  • Shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
  • Post a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
  • Make arrangements for your pets.