Family Preparedness

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services--water, gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere--at work, at school or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?

Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow the steps listed here and on this website. Knowing what to do is your responsibility and your best protection.

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.


1.Locate the main electric fuse or breaker box, water service main and natural gas main. 2.Teach all responsible family members how and when to turn these utilities off. 3.Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.

4.Turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. 5.If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

Neighbors Helping Neighbors

1.Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives.

2.If you're a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. 3.Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons.
4.Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.

Home Hazard Hunt

1.Inspect your home at least once a year for anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire.
2.Fix any potential hazards or possible dangers that you find.


1.Evacuate immediately if told to do so
2.Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
3.Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
4.Take your family disaster supplies kit.
5.Lock your home.
6.Use travel routes specified by local authorities; don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
7.If you're sure you have time:
8.Shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
9.Post a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
10.Make arrangements for your pets.

If Disaster Strikes

1.If disaster strikes, remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
2.Check for injuries. Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
3.Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions
4.Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
5.Check for damage in your home.
6.Use flashlights; do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
7.Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
8.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 quickly.
9.Shut off any other damaged utilities.
10.Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.
11.Confine or secure your pets.
12.Call your family contact; do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
13.Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
14.Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
15.Stay away from downed power lines.