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

Finding shelter is vital in times of disaster. Sheltering outside the hazard area is apt when disaster strikes. This would include staying with loved ones, commercial lodging or staying in a mass facility.
You must consider the hazard and then choose a safe place for that hazard. Because the safest locations for shelter vary by hazard, sheltering is discussed in the specific sections about hazards.
Even though mass shelters may provide water, food, medicine and basic sanitary facilities, you need to take your disaster supplies kit with you so you will have your specific supplies. Keep in mind that alcohol and weapons are prohibited in emergency shelters and smoking is restricted.
The length of time you are required to shelter may be short or long, depending on the hazard. It is imperative that you stay in shelter until local authorities say you can leave.

How do I Manage Water?
Allow people to drink according to their needs. Many people need more than the average of one-half gallon per day. The amount needed depends on age, physical activity, physical condition and time of year

Never ration water unless ordered to do so by authorities. Drink the amount you need daily. A person should never drink less than four cups of water each day. You can minimize the amount of water needed by reducing activity and staying cool.

Drink water that you know is not contaminated first

Do not drink carbonated beverages instead of water. Carbonated beverages do not meet water requirements. Caffeinated drinks and alcohol actually dehydrate the body

You will need to protect the water sources already in your home from contamination if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines. To close the incoming water source, locate the incoming valve and turn it to the closed position. Be sure all family members know how to perform this important procedure.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the faucet in your home at the highest level. Obtain water from the lowest faucet in the home

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve at the tank and turning on the hot water faucet. Refill the tank before turning the gas or electricity back on.

What are Water Sources?

Safe Sources

Melted ice cubes

Water drained from the water heater

Liquids from canned goods such as fruit or vegetable juices

Water drained from pipes

Unsafe Sources

Hot water boilers (home heating system)

Water from the toilet bowl or flush tank

Swimming pools and spas—these are possible to use for bathing sources

What is Water Treatment?

Treat all uncertain water before using it for drinking, food preparation, washing dishes or brushing teeth. Contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis.
There is no one way to treat water the most effectively. The best solution is to use more than one procedure as discussed below. Before treating, strain any suspended particles through coffee filters or layers of clean cloth.
Make sure you have the necessary materials in your disaster supplies kit for the chosen water treatment methods.
There are three water treatment methods. They are as follows:


Boiling is the safest method of treating water. In a large pot or kettle, bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.


You can use household liquid bleach to kill micro organisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners. Use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it for another source of water.


Distillation will remove microbes that resist boiling and chlorination, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.
Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting only the vapor that condenses. The condensed vapor will not include most impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot lid so that the cup will dangle right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not in the water) and boil for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

How do I Manage Food Supplies?
Safety and Sanitation


Keep food in covered containers

Keep cooking and eating utensils clean

Keep garbage in closed containers and dispose outside, burying garbage if necessary

Keep your hands clean by washing them frequently with soap and water that has been boiled or disinfected

Use only prepared canned baby formula for infants

Discard any food that has come into contact with contaminated floodwater

Discard any food that has been at room temperature for two hours or more

Discard any food that has an unusual odor, color or texture


Eat foods from cans that are swollen, dented or corroded

Eat any food that looks or smells abnormal

Use powdered formulas with treated water

Let garbage accumulate inside, both for fire and sanitation reasons
Note: Thawed food usually can be eaten if it is still refrigerator cold. When in doubt, throw it out.

Alternative cooking sources in times of emergency include candle warmers, chafing dishes, fondue pots or a fireplace

Charcoal grills and camp stoves should be used outdoors only

Commercially canned food may be eaten out of the can without warming

To heat food in a can:

Remove the label

Thoroughly wash and disinfect the can

Open the can before heating

How do I Manage without Power?
Look for alternate storage space for your perishable food.

Use dry ice. Twenty-five pounds of dry ice will keep a 10-cubic-foot freezer below freezing for 3-4 days. Use dry, heavy gloves to avoid injury.