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

Returning Home
Returning home can be both physically and mentally challenging. Above all, use caution.
General tips:
Keep a battery-powered radio with you so you can listen for emergency updates and news reports

Use a battery-powered flash light to inspect a damaged home

Watch out for animals

Use a stick to poke through debris

Use the phone only to report life-threatening emergencies

Stay off the streets

If you must go out watch for fallen objects, downed electrical wires, weakened walls, bridges, roads and sidewalks.

What should I know about Returning to My Home?

Walk carefully around the outside and check for loose power lines, gas leaks and structural damage. If you have any doubts about safety, have your residence inspected by a qualified building inspector or structural engineer before entering.
Do not enter if:
You smell gas

Floodwaters remain around the building

Your home was damaged by fire and the authorities have not declared it safe

Why should I worry about Going inside My Home?

When you go inside your home, there are certain things you should and should not do. Enter the home carefully and check for damage. Be aware of loose boards and slippery floors. Also carefully consider:

Natural gas

If you smell gas or hear a hissing or blowing sound, open a window and leave immediately. Turn off the main gas valve from the outside, if you can. Call the gas company from a neighbor’s residence. If you shut off the gas supply at the main valve, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Do not smoke or use oil, gas lanterns, candles, or torches for lighting inside a damaged home until you are sure there is no leaking gas or other flammable materials present.

Sparks, broken or frayed wires

Check the electrical system unless you are wet, standing in water or unsure of your safety. If possible, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. If the situation is unsafe, leave the building and call for help. Do not turn on the lights until you are sure they’re safe to use. You may want to have an electrician inspect your wiring.

Roof, foundation and chimney cracks

If think that the building may collapse, leave immediately.


If appliances are wet, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Then, unplug appliances and let them dry out. Have appliances checked by a professional before using them again. Also, have the electrical system checked by an electrician before turning the power back on.

Water and sewage systems

If pipes are damaged, turn off the main water valve. Check with local authorities before using any water; the water could be contaminated. Pump out wells and have the water tested by authorities before drinking. Do not flush toilets until you know that sewage lines are undamaged.

Food and other supplies

Throw out all food and other supplies that you suspect may have become contaminated or come in to contact with floodwater.


If your basement has flooded, pump it out gradually (about one third of the water per day) to avoid damage. The walls may collapse and the floor may buckle if the basement is pumped out while the surrounding ground is still waterlogged.

Other things to do:

Open cabinets

Be alert for objects that may fall from cabinets or loose shelves

Clean up household chemical spills

Disinfect items that may have been contaminated by raw sewage, bacteria or chemicals

Clean salvageable items

Call your insurance agent

Take pictures of damages

Keep good records of repair and cleaning costs

Why do I need to be Wary of Wildlife and Other Animals?
Disaster and life threatening situations will intensify the unpredictable nature of wild animals. To protect yourself and your family, learn how to deal with wildlife.

Do not approach or attempt to help an injured or stranded animal

Call your local animal control office or wildlife resource office

Do not corner wild animals or try to rescue them

Wild animals will likely feel threatened and may endanger themselves by dashing off into dangerous areas

Do not approach wild animals that have taken refuge in your home.

If you encounter animals, open a window or provide another escape route and the animal will likely leave on its own

Do not attempt to move a dead animal

Animal carcasses can present serious health risks

Contact your local emergency management office or health department for help and instructions

If bitten by an animal, seek immediate medical attention