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  Are you and your family prepared for an emergency or disaster event? It’s important to know that you should have adequate quantities of food, water and supplies to last for at least three (3) days. Why? First-responders will be assisting at emergency/disaster sites and may not be able to respond to non-life threatening requests. Services that you are dependent on such as electricity and phone may not be functional. Families who have an emergency plan are better able to cope. You can protect your family in four (4) easy steps:

1. Get a kit


It’s important to consider your family’s unique needs. Do you have children? Do you care for an elderly parent? Are there family members with disabilities? Do have pets? Careful planning now can reduce the amount of stress on you and your family. Items to consider when putting together a kit may include:

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
  • Food at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Whistle
  • Dust masks
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Garbage bags
  • Moist towelettes
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • First aid kits
  • Prescription medications
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet
  • Family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof container
  • Emergency cash or travelers checks
  • Important family documents stored in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Cups, plates and utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children


2. Make a Plan


Your family may not be together when an emergency/disaster occurs. It’s important to bring all members of your family together and develop a communications plan before an emergency/disaster event.

  • Identify a place where family members will meet should you have to leave your home.
  • Identify a place where family members will meet should it be impossible to get back to your home.
  • Choose an out-of-town relative or friend to serve as your family’s point-of contact. In an emergency, family members should contact this individual and “check-in”. Make sure every family member knows the contact person’s phone number and email address.
  • Remember to carry a cell phone, coins or a prepaid calling-card.
  • Consider sending family members SMS (short message system) texts. Texts are transmitted faster and require considerably less bandwidth than cell phone calls.

Your family may be asked to evacuate or shelter-in-place. Families should understand and plan for each circumstance.



  • Evacuation orders may be issued by local governments. Residents may be notified via radio or television. Know in advance how your community will be notified and whether you can sign up for alert notifications. Always follow travel routes identified by authorities.
  • If authorities are unable to provide evacuation instructions, have a plan already made on where you will go with mapped out travel routes.
  • Call your emergency point of contact




  • Pre-identify a room in your home to serve as your shelter. Choose a large room with few windows and doors. A large room with a water supply is the most preferable.
  • Understand the different emergency situations that call for sheltering - in-place and the appropriate steps to protect your family and pets.
  • If you are instructed to shelter-in-place, do so immediately and follow orders issued by your local government.
  • Call your emergency point of contact.



3. Be Informed


How you and your family responds will depend on the nature of the emergency. Taking the time to learn more about specific emergencies such as floods, power outages, acts of terrorism and pandemics will enable you and your family to devise appropriate plans tailored to your family’s needs.

In addition, learn more about your community’s emergency plans. Identify shelter locations in advance and sign up for alert notifications.



4. Get Involved


  • Learn CPR and Basic First Aid.
  • Get trained and volunteer with a local response agency to provide support during an emergency.
  • Get trained and certified as an emergency radio operator with your local amateur radio communication emergency services.
  • Support community safety and security by getting trained and involved in Neighborhood Watch programs.
  • Volunteer to support local fire departments.