Why Prepare?

Basic Preparedness
Getting Informed
Planning and Checklists
Special Needs
Disaster Supplies Kit

Natural Hazards
Thunderstorms and lightning
Winter storms and extreme cold
Extreme heat
Landslides and debris flow

Technological Hazards
Hazardous materials incidents
Household chemical emergencies
Nuclear power plant emergencies

Biological threats
Chemical threats
Nuclear blasts
Radiological dispersion device events

Recovering from Disaster
Health and safety guidelines
Returning home
Seeking disaster assistance
Coping with disaster
Helping others

Getting Informed
Learn about the hazards that may strike your community, the risks you face from these hazards and your community’s plans for warning and evacuation. You can obtain this information from your local emergency management office or your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Where are the Hazards?
Ask local authorities about each possible hazard or emergency in your area. Figure out which hazards you may encounter and how best to prepare for them.
You also can consult FEMA for Hazard Maps in your area, select maps and follow the directions.

What are Warning Systems and Signals?
The Emergency Alert System (EAS) can address the entire nation on very short notice in case of a grave threat or national emergency. Ask if your local radio and TV stations participate in the EAS.

National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information directly from a nearby National Weather Service office to specially configured NOAA weather radio receivers. Determine if NOAA Weather Radio is available where you live. If so, consider purchasing a NOAA weather radio receiver.

What about Evacuating Myself and My Family?
When community evacuations become necessary, local officials provide information to the public through the media. In some circumstances, other warning methods, such as sirens or telephone calls, also are used. Additionally, there may be circumstances under which you and your family feel threatened or endangered and you need to leave your home, school or workplace to avoid these situations.

The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If the event is a weather condition you might have a day or two to get ready. However, many disasters allocate no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.

Evacuations are more common than many people realize. Fires and floods cause evacuations even more frequently. Almost every year, people along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts evacuate due to imminent hurricanes.
What are the basic Evacuation Guidelines?

Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages

Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay
Make transportation arrangements with friends or your local government if you do not own a car
Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions
Gather your family and go if you are instructed to evacuate immediately
Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather
Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked
Be alert for washed-out roads and bridges.
Do not drive into flooded areas
Stay away from downed power lines

If time permits:
Gather your disaster supplies kit
Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection, such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a cap
Secure your home:

  • Close and lock doors and windows
  • Unplug electrical equipment, such as radios and televisions, and small appliances, toasters and microwaves. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding
  • Let others know where you are going

What Community Plans should be considered?
Ask local officials the following questions about your community’s disaster/emergency plans.

Does my community have a plan?
Can I obtain a copy?
What does the plan contain?
How often is it updated?
What should I know about the plan?
What hazards does it cover?

In addition to finding out about your community’s plan, it is important that you know what plans are in place for your workplace and your children’s school or day care center.

Ask your employer about workplace policies regarding disasters and emergencies, including understanding how you will be provided emergency and warning information.

Contact your children’s school or day care center to discuss their disaster procedures.

What do I do about School Emergency Plans?
Know your children’s school emergency plan:
Ask how the school will communicate during a crisis.

Make sure the school stores adequate food, water and other basic supplies.

Find out if the school is prepared to offer shelter if need be and where they plan to go if they must get away.

In cases where schools institute measures to shelter-in-place, you may not be permitted to pick up your children. Monitor local media outlets for announcements about changes in school openings and closings, and follow the directions of local emergency officials.
For more information on developing emergency preparedness plans for schools, please log on to the U.S. Department of Education at Emergency Plans.

What do I do about Workplace Plans?
If you are an employer, make sure your workplace has a building evacuation plan that is regularly practiced.

Take a critical look at your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to determine security and be sure you know how to turn it off if you need to

Think about what to do if your employees can't go home

Make sure you have appropriate supplies on hand