1. Learn if earthquakes are a risk in your area by contacting your local emergency management office, local American Red Cross Chapter or state geological survey or department of natural resources. Information about earthquake risk is also available from the U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazards project.
2. A disaster can cause significant financial loss. Your apartment or home may be severely damaged or destroyed. You may be forced to live in temporary housing. Income may be cut off or significantly reduced. Important financial records could be destroyed. Take the time now to assess your situation and ask questions.
3. To help you, consider using the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a tool developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps or contact your local American Red Cross Chapter for Disasters and Financial Planning: A Guide to Preparedness.
4. Understand that during an emergency you may be asked to “shelter-in-place” or evacuate. Plan for both possibilities and be prepared to listen to instructions from your local officials. Visit www.ready.gov for more information on sheltering-in-place.
5. In some emergencies you may be required to turn off your utilities. To prepare for this type of event do the following: locate the electric, gas and water shut-off valves; keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves and teach adult family members how to turn off utilities. *If you turn off the gas, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this yourself.
6. When water is of questionable purity, it is easiest to use bottled water for drinking and cooking if it is available. When it’s not available, it is important to know how to treat contaminated water. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, water from questionable sources may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms including bacteria and parasites that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. All water of uncertain purity should be treated before use. Use one or a combination of these treatments:
- Filter: Filter the water using a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove solid particles
- Boil: Bring it to a rolling boil for about one full minute. Cool it and pour it back and forth between two clean containers to improve its taste before drinking it.
- Chlorinate: Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Stir to mix. Sodium hypochlorite of the concentration of 5.25% to 6% should be the only active ingredient in the bleach. There should not be any added soap or fragrances. A major bleach manufacturer has also added Sodium Hydroxide as an active ingredient, which they state does not pose a health risk for water treatment. Let stand 30 minutes after mixing. If it smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine, add 16 more drops (1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach per gallon of water, let stand 30 minutes and smell again. If it smells of chlorine, you can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water.
- Flood water can also be contaminated by toxic chemicals. Do NOT try to treat flood water.
7. Read the information on your city, county and/or state government Web sites as well as www.ready.gov and print emergency preparedness information. Be sure to keep a copy with your disaster supplies kit. It can provide telephone numbers, addresses and other information you need when electronic connections are not available options for obtaining the information.
8. Teach children how to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency. Review emergency action steps with all family members: check the scene and the victim, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number posted by the telephone and care for the victim. Help your children learn more about emergencies. Visit www.ready.gov and click on Ready Kids for more information on how to talk to your kids about disasters.
9. You should also keep a smaller version of your emergency supply kit in your vehicle, in case you are commuting or traveling when disaster strikes.
Emergency Kit for your Vehicle:
- Bottled water and non-perishable high energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins and peanut butter
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Booster cables
- Fire extinguisher (5 lb., A-B-C type)
- First aid kit and manual
- Tire repair kit and pump
- Flares or other emergency marking devices
10. Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person in your emergency supply kit. We suggest long pants and long sleeves for additional protection after a disaster. More items (essential items are marked with an asterisk*):
- Sturdy shoes or work boots *
- Rain gear *
- Blankets or sleeting bags *
- Hat and gloves
- Thermal underwear
11. Also include items for sanitation in your emergency supply kit. Consider the following (essential items are marked with an asterisk*):
- Toilet paper, towelettes*,
- Soap, liquid detergent*,
- Feminine supplies*,
- Personal Hygiene items*,
- Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)*,
- Plastic bucket with tight lid,
- Disinfectant and
- Household Chlorine bleach.
12. One of the easiest ways you can prepare for emergencies is to keep some supplies readily available. Every kit is unique and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your family, but below is a general list of supplies you may want to consider:
Tools and supplies (essential items are marked with an asterisk *)
- Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils;
- Emergency preparedness manual and a copy of your disaster plan including your emergency contacts list;
- Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*;
- Flashlight and extra batteries*;
- Cash or traveler’s checks, change*;
- Non-electric can opener, utility knife*;
- Fire extinguisher (small ABC type stored near where fires are likely to occur such as a kitchen, or near a fireplace. It should not be kept in the disaster supplies kit);
- Tube tent;
- Duct tape*;
- Matches in a water proof container;
- Aluminum foil;
- Plastic storage containers;
- Signal flare;
- Paper, pencil*;
- Needles and thread;
- Medicine dropper;
- Shut-off wrench or pliers to turn off household gas and water;
- Plastic Sheeting* and
- Map of the area (for local shelters and evacuation routes).
13. Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person. Store a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation and sanitation). Store water in plastic container such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments and strenuous activity can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and people who are sick will also need more.
14. Take a minute to check your family’s first aid kit, and note any depleted items – then, add them to your shopping list. Don’t have a first aid kit? Add that to the list or build a kit yourself. Just add the following items to your shopping list and assemble in a first aid kit. Consider creating a kit for each vehicle as well:
- (20) Adhesive bandages, various sizes,
- (1) 5” x 9” sterile dressing,
- (1) Conforming roller gauze bandage,
- (2) Triangular bandages,
- (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze pads,
- (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze pads,
- (1) Roll 3” cohesive bandage,
- (6) Antiseptic wipes,
- Adhesive tape, 2” width,
- Anti-bacterial ointment,
- Cold pack,
- Scissors (small, personal),
- First Aid Manuel,
- CPR breathing barrier, such as a face shield,
- (2) Pair large medical grade non-latex gloves,
- (2) Germicidal hand wipes or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer,
- Non-prescription and Prescription drugs,
- Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever,
- Anti-diarrhea medication,
- Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center),
- Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center) and
- Prescription drugs, as recommended by your physician, and copies of the prescriptions in case they need to be replaced.
For more information about first aid kits, visit www.redcross.org.
15. Preparing for emergencies does not have to be expensive if you’re thinking ahead and buying small quantities at a time. Make a list of some foods that:
- Have a long shelf-life and will not spoil (non-perishable),
- You and your family like,
- Do not require cooking,
- Can be easily stored and
- Have a low salt content as salty foods will make you more thirsty.
Keep the list in your purse or wallet and pick up a few items each time you’re shopping an/or see a sale until you have built up a well-stocked supply that can sustain each member of your family for at least three days following an emergency.
16. You should keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of you and your family for at least three days. Build an emergency supply kit to take with you in an evacuation. The basics to stock in your portable kit include:
- Battery-powered radio,
- Flashlight with extra batteries,
- First aid supplies,
- Change of clothing,
- Blanket or sleeping bag,
- Wrench or pliers,
- Dust mask,
- Plastic sheeting an duct tape,
- Trash bags,
- Manual can opener and
- Special items for infants, elderly, the ill or people with disabilities.
Keep these items in an easy to carry container such as a covered trash container, a large backpack or a duffel bag.
17. If you or someone close to you has a disability or a special need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family in an emergency. Individuals with disabilities should:
- Create a support network to help in an emergency,
- Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies,
- Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment,
- Contact your city or county government's emergency information management office (Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency),
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability,
- If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment know the location and availability of more than one facility,
- Show others how to operate your wheelchair and
- Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
If you have special needs: Find out about special assistance that may be available in your community. Register with the office of emergency services or the local fire department for assistance so needed help can be provided.
18. What if disaster strikes while you are at work? Do you know the emergency preparedness plan for your workplace? While many companies have been more alert and pro-active in preparing for disasters of all types since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, a national survey indicates that many employees still don’t know what their workplace plan is for major and minor disasters. If you don’t know yours, make a point to ask. Know multiple ways to exit your building, participate in workplace evacuation drills and consider keeping some emergency supplies at the office. Visit www.ready.gov and click on Ready Business for more information about business preparedness.
19. A community working together during an emergency makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency. Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis. Decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors. Make back-up plans for children in case you can’t get home in an emergency. Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.
20. Practice. Conduct fire drills and practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on a map in case main roads are blocked or grid locked. Practice tornado drills at home, school and work. Commit a weekend to update telephone numbers, emergency supplies and review your plan with everyone.
21.Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post these and other emergency telephone numbers by telephones.
22. Check your child’s school Web site or call the school office to request a copy of the school’s emergency plan. Keep a copy at home and work or other places where you spend a lot of your time and make sure the school’s plan is incorporated into your family’s emergency plan. Also, learn about the disaster plans at your workplace or other places where you and your family spend time.
23. Go through your calendar now, and put a reminder on it – every six months – to review your plan, update numbers and check supplies to be sure nothing has expired, spoiled or changed. Also remember to practice your tornado, fire escape or other disaster plans.
24. Include in your pet’s emergency supply kit a backup leash, collar and ID tag. Place copies of your pet’s registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and include in your kit. You should also consider talking with your veterinarian about permanent identification such as microchipping and enrolling your pet in a recovery database.
25. Just as you would prepare an emergency supply kit for your family, think first about the basics needed for your pet’s survival, particularly food and water. Some items to consider keeping in your pet’s emergency supply kit include:
- Food (at least 3 days worth in an airtight, waterproof container),
- Water (at least 3 days worth specifically for your pet),
- Medicines and medical records,
- First aid kit (most kits should include bandages, tape, scissors, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, isopropyl alcohol and saline solution),
- Crate or other pet carrier (the carrier should be large enough for your pet to stand, turn around and lie down),
- Sanitation (include pet litter and a litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs),
- Picture of you and your pet together (a picture helps document ownership and allows others to assist you in identifying your pet) and
- Familiar items (favorite toys, treats or bedding can help reduce stress for your pet).
Be sure to review your kit regularly to ensure that its contents, especially foods and medicines, are fresh.
26. Dogs may be everyone's best friend, but due to health regulations, most emergency shelters cannot house animals. Find out in advance how to care for your pets and working animals when disaster strikes. Pets should not be left behind, but could be taken to a veterinary office, family member's home or animal shelter during an emergency. Also, be sure to store extra food and water for pets. Click here to see more information on how to prepare your pet for an emergency.
27. Complete an emergency contact card and make copies for each member of your family to carry. Be sure to include an out-of-town contact on your contact card. It may be easier to reach someone out of town if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded. You should also have at least one traditionally wired land line phone, as cordless or cellular phones may not work in an emergency. Click here to download a sample emergency contact card.
28. Choose an emergency contact person outside your area because it may be easier to call long distance than locally after a local or regional disaster. Take a minute now to call or e-mail an out-of-town friend or family member to ask him or her to be your family's designated contact in the event of an emergency. Be sure to share the contact's phone number with everyone in the family. During an emergency, you can call your contact who can share with other family members where you are, how you are doing and how to get in contact with you.
29. Pick a place to meet after a disaster. Designate two meeting places. Choose one right outside your home, in case of a sudden household emergency, such as a fire. The second place you choose needs to be outside your neighborhood, in the event that it is not safe to stay near or return to your home.
30. Take a moment to imagine there is an emergency, like a fire in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find a least two ways out of each room. Now, write it down - you've got the beginning of a plan.