The likelihood of you and your family surviving a house fire depends as much on having a working smoke detector and an exit strategy, as on a well-trained fire department. The same is true for surviving a natural disaster or other emergency. We must have the tools and plans in place to make it on our own, at least for a period of time, no matter where we are when disaster strikes.
Just like having a working smoke detector, preparing for the unexpected makes sense. Get a kit, make a plan and be informed.
Have a Plan
- Because disasters may be unexpected, it is important to have a family plan of action and communication to ensure that all household members are safe.
- Remember to keep a list of emergency contact numbers for your household members, nearby hospitals, first response agencies, and others.
- Visit Ready.Gov for a good resource on creating a Family Emergency Plan.
- Watch this brief video for an overview of how to create and test your Family Emergency Plan.
Build a Kit
- A disaster kit is a cache of basic supplies that you would need during a disaster. These supplies could be stored in a container or backpack in your home. It is good practice to keep a second disaster kit in your car or place of employment.
- The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that you include three days of food and water. Depending on how remote your home is, you may want to prepare for longer.
- Make sure you include items that may be specific to other household members with special needs such as children, the elderly, pets, etc.
- In addition to items necessary for survival, consider including “morale boosting” items in case you are required to shelter in place for a few days. Examples could be crayons and coloring books or playing cards.
- Here are some links for building your own disaster kit.. Guidance may vary, so we encourage you to research and determine what fits your household needs and budget best.
Prepare your Home
- Check with your insurance provider to ensure that you have sufficient coverage for your home or rental property.
- Learn how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity in your home.
- Identify a place in your home that would suffice to shelter in place during a disaster.
- Determine escape routes from your home. Practice them. Determine a meeting spot.
- Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and a generator.
Be a Good Neighbor
- Get to know your neighbors, and identify those who may need additional assistance during a disaster.
- Check on your neighbors before, during, and after a disaster if it is safe and possible.
- Assist neighbors with identifying resources they may need during a disaster (transportation, meal services, medical assistance).
- Plan how your neighborhood could work together after a disaster.