Prepare Your Family Before, During and After a Disaster


Fires, floods, mudslides and earthquakes—Disasters can strike at any time without warning. Do you know what to do or have a plan in case of an emergency?

First responders may be delayed in responding. Being prepared will help you take care of yourself, your family and your community.


1. GATHER INFORMATION: Gather contact information for individuals, medical providers, fire department, poison control, police, the local office of emergency services, home and medical insurance and more. Other information to gather:


  • Know what types of disasters are common in your area, and plan accordingly; and
  • Know CPR – it could save a life


  • Check that natural disasters are covered by your policy;
  • Take pictures of your belongings.

Know where to get information

  • Know where to listen for announcements from local authorities on TV, local radio or National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather stations or channels.


In the event of an emergency, answers to these questions will need to be automatic:

  • Where will you meet loved ones if your home is unavailable?
  • Who should your children trust if you cannot get to them?
  • How will you know where to go should you evacuate?
  • What should you bring with you?
  • Consider having one out-of-town family member as your primary contact to help avoid clogged phone lines.

Put your answers to these questions into a family disaster plan. Be sure to:

  • Teach your children how to call 9-1-1 and who to contact in the event of an emergency;
  • Practice evacuation from your home and the route you will travel to escape the emergency.



Prepare a kit that you can take should you need to evacuate. Check your kit at scheduled intervals for expired supplies. Your kit should be lightweight (without the food and water), portable and should contain the following:

Non-perishable Food and Water for Three Days:

  • Store at least one gallon of water per person per day.
  • Store ready-to-eat canned food (with can opener), staples, and high-energy foods.

First Aid Kit

Assemble a kit for your home and one per car, including:

  • bandages of various sizes
  • alcohol based sanitizer or germicidal/antiseptic wipes
  • non-latex gloves
  • adhesive tape
  • anti-bacterial ointment
  • cold pack; small scissors
  • tweezers; CPR breathing barrier
  • other items specific to your needs.

Tools and Supplies

  • Disposable plates
  • cups and utensils
  • battery operated radio and flashlight with extra batteries
  • utility knife
  • matches in a waterproof container
  • extra cash and coins
  • feminine products
  • glasses or contact lenses
  • maps with evacuation routes clearly marked
  • fire extinguisher.

Clothing and Bedding

One complete change of clothing and footwear per person, along with blankets or sleeping bags.

Special Items

  • Keep important documents, such as insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, bank account numbers, prescription information and credit card numbers in a waterproof, locking firebox or other portable container; and
  • Some families have special needs for the elderly or young children;
  • Make sure to stock up supplies for your pets.



  • Find all family members
    (are they all home?)
  • Get Emergency Kit and any special items
  • Find your pet(s)
  • Bring cell phone and radio if not in your kit
  • Get important family documents and pictures
  • Get prescription medication for you and your family
  • Remember your family’s escape route
  • Find your family meeting place outside the home, or outside neighborhood


  • Turn off utilities if necessary
  • Leave note for others if you will not be returning
  • Turn on radio for reports


  • Make sure it is safe before you return to your home—contact local police, fire departments, or disaster relief agencies for information;
  • Register as “Safe and Well” with the American Red Cross, so your family and friends will know your status and can obtain your contact information. Utilize the Red Cross and local services to locate lost loved ones. Visit for more information;
  • Contact your insurance provider to make a claim for damaged property; and
  • After life has returned to normal, evaluate what happened during this emergency for what worked well and what should be changed or altered when preparing for the next potential disaster.