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Environmental Management

Being Prepared at Home
Develop a Family Disaster Plan

 In order to keep your family safe in an emergency, it is important to plan in advance what you will do.

Before an emergency strikes, have a plan in place. Review your immediate surroundings, and take note of whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones. Think about the places where your family spends time: school, work and other places where you might be when a crisis happens. Ask about their emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency. If they do not have an emergency plan, consider helping develop one.

Create a Disaster Plan
Meet with your family and talk about why you need to prepare for a disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.

  • Discuss the types of disasters that could happen and what to do.
  • Pick two places to meet:
    • Right outside your home.
    • Outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Make sure everyone knows the address and phone number of the place where you plan to meet.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend or family member to be your “family contact.” All family members should call this person and tell them where they are.
  • Talk about what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Remember, the best emergency plans are those with very few details.

Create and Complete a Checklist

  • Keep emergency telephone numbers by phones.  
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.  
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity.  
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.  
  • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher, and show them where it is kept.  
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Look around your home for possible hazards.
  • During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards. Contact your local fire department to learn more about home fire hazards. 
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble an emergency supply kit.  
  • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.  
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.  
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Keep a smaller disaster supplies kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep a portable, battery-operated radio or television and extra batteries. Always keep a supply of extra batteries.
  • Make two photocopies of vital documents and keep the originals in a safe deposit box. Keep one copy in a safe place in the house, and give the second copy to an out-of-town friend or relative.
  • Take a complete inventory of your home, garage and surrounding property. This list could help you prove the value of what you owned if your possessions are damaged or destroyed and can help you to claim deductions on taxes.

Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  •  Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.  
  •  Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.  
  •  Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.  
  •  Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions.  
  •  Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.  
  •  To make your plan, visit  

Prepare an Emergency Supply Kit

Be prepared to use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air. Put together two kits. In one, put everything needed to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a portable version you can take with you if you have to get away.

Emergency Supply Kit Checklist

  • Water & Food
    • Water
    • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person; each person will need a gallon each day
    • Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water
    • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary
    • Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles
    • Food
    • Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
    • Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water
    • Pack a manual can opener, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
    • Choose foods your family will eat such as:
      • Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
      • Protein or fruit bars
      • Dry cereal or granola
      • Peanut butter
      • Dried fruit
      • Nuts
      • Crackers
      • Canned juices
      • Non-perishable pasteurized milk
      • High-energy foods
      • Food for infants
      • Comfort/stress foods
  • First Aid Kit
    In any emergency, a family member may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt. Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate medical attention. Knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency. Consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination.
  • Things You Should Have:
    • Two pairs of sterile gloves
    • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
    • Soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect
    • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
    • Burn ointment to prevent infection
    • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
    • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes
    • Thermometer
    • Prescription medications you take every day (you should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates)
    • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies
    • Medicine dropper
    • First Aid book
    • Non-prescription drugs (aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medication, antacid, laxative)
  • Other Items:
    • Cell phone
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Battery-powered radio
    • Flashlight
    • Extra batteries
    • Whistle to signal for help
    • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
    • Moist towelettes for sanitation
    • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
    • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
    • Infant formula and diapers
    • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
    • Cash or traveler's checks, change
    • Paper towels
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Tent
    • Compass
    • Matches in a waterproof container
    • Signal flare
    • Paper, pencil
    • Feminine supplies
    • Personal hygiene items
    • Disinfectant
    • Household chlorine bleach
    • You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water
      • Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water
      • Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners
    • Copies of important family records in a waterproof portable container
  • Clothing and Bedding 
    • One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
      • A jacket or coat
      • Long pants
      • A long sleeve shirt
      • Sturdy shoes
      • A hat and gloves
      • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
      • Rain gear
  • Special Needs Items Remember the special needs of your family members. Infants, the elderly and persons with disabilities need the same planning as everyone else, and sometimes a little more, to be prepared for a terrorist attack.
    • For Infants -Make sure to keep the following in your emergency supply kit:
      • Formula
      • Diapers
      • Bottles
      • Powdered milk
      • Medications
      • Moist towelettes
      • Diaper rash ointment
    • For Adults - Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication and insulin. Consider the following for your emergency supply kit:
      • Denture needs
      • Contact lenses and supplies
      • Extra eye glasses
    • For Seniors and People with Disabilities  - Plan how you will evacuate or signal for help. Plan emergency procedures with home health care agencies or workers. Tell others where you keep your emergency supplies. 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 an 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. Teach others how to operate necessary equipment. Label equipment such as wheelchairs, canes and walkers. Additional supplies include:
      • A list of prescription medications including dosage and any allergies
      • Extra eye glasses and hearing-aid batteries
      • A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers
      • Extra wheelchair batteries and oxygen
      • Copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards
      • A list of doctors and emergency contacts

Portable Emergency Supply Kit

  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • Extra batteries
  • First Aid Kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
  • Moist towelettes for sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Unique family needs, such as daily prescription medications, infant formula or diapers and important family documents
  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

During an emergency, keep yourself informed in case you must take action. Listen for emergency instructions and updates on radio and television, and from agencies responding to the emergency, such as the fire department or Sheriff’s Office. If an action is called, such as evacuating an area, take that action seriously. 

After an emergency, know that recovery assistance is available. Help is there for those affected by the emergency through personal loss, or for people who are simply having a hard time coping emotionally with the events.

For recovery assistance, visit

Special Preparedness Resources from

Links to Retail Suppliers of Emergency Kits
(These companies and/or their affiliates are not endorsed in any way by this Department. This list is strictly for your convenience.)