You can take steps now to help you prepare for an emergency and cope if a public health emergency, such as a natural disaster, act of terrorism, or disease outbreaks happens. We’ve provided step-by-step actions to help you prepare before an emergency to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Get A Kit
If a disaster strikes in your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for several days. Preparing an emergency kit for your family is an important step in keeping them safe and healthy during an emergency.
Pack an emergency supply kit. Be sure to include:
At Least a 3-day Supply of Food and Water
- Water – one gallon per person, per day
- Food – foods that are easy to make and won’t spoil, like canned soup, dry pasta, and powdered milk
- Manual can opener
- Basic utensils to prepare and serve meals
Are You Prepared?
- 3-day supply of all medicines, at a minimum
- Medical supplies like syringes, a walking cane, or hearing aids with extra batteries
Personal Care Items
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Baby wipes
- Contact lenses or glasses
- First aid kit
- Emergency blanket
- Multipurpose tool (that can act as a knife, file, pliers, and screwdriver)
- Radio (battery-powered, solar, or hand-crank) for updates on the situation
- Cell phone with chargers
- Extra batteries
- Copies of important documents such as insurance cards and immunization records
- Paperwork about any serious or on-going medical condition
- Your completed family emergency plan, complete with family and emergency contact information.
You should also include:
- Extra cash
- Maps of the area
- Extra set of car keys and house keys
Take Care of Others
Every family is unique. You may have emergency needs not included in this list. Also, remember to update your kit according to changing needs of your family.
- Baby supplies like bottles, formula, baby food, and diapers
- Games and activities for children
- Food and Water
- A 3-day supply of food and water for each pet. A cat or a dog will generally need 1 gallon for three days.
- Bowls or bottles
- Manual can opener
- Cleaning Supplies
- Depending on the pet, you may need a litter box, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach
- Health and Safety
- Medicines and medical records stored in a waterproof container
- First aid kit with a pet first aid book
- Transport supplies
- A sturdy leash, harness, and carrier to transport pets safely. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for several hours.
- Comfort Items
- Pet toys and the pet’s bed, if you can easily bring it, to reduce stress
- Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them, and to prove that they are your pets, in case you become separated from them
- Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems, and the name and telephone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care
- Download our Pet Emergency Checklist
- Keep it fresh. It’s extremely important that all items in your kit are functional at the time of an emergency.
- Check the expiration dates on food, water, medicine, and batteries at least two times per year.
- Replace any food or supplies that may have expired.
- Be sure it’s ready to use. In a disaster situation, you may need to get your emergency supply kit quickly, whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating.
- Once you have gathered your supplies, pack the items in easy-to-carry containers.
- Clearly label the containers and store them where you can reach them easily.
- Remember that certain items, like medications and paper documents, need to be kept in waterproof containers.
- Involve children. Families can make emergencies less stressful by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Ready Wrigley(https://www.cdc.gov/phpr/readywrigley/index.htm) can help!
- Ask your kids to think of items that they would like to include in an emergency supply kit, such as books, games, and pre-packaged foods.
- Your kids can mark the dates on a calendar for checking emergency supplies. Tell them to remind you when it’s time to check the supplies.
- Include kids in planning and creating disaster kits for family pets.
- Know your house. Find out where your gas, electric, and water shut-off locations are, and how to turn them off.
- Prepare for everywhere. Emergencies can happen anywhere. Remember to prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles.
Make A Plan
Unfortunately, about half of adults in the United States do not have the resources and plans in place for a possible emergency. Families can make emergencies less stressful by preparing in advance and working together as a team.
Make a Family Communication Plan
You and your loved ones may not be together when a disaster hits. Make a plan for how you will connect to each other. Start by taking the following steps:
- Complete a contact card for each family member. Everyone should keep these cards with them at all times.
- Choose an emergency contact. Memorize the phone number if you can. A friend or relative who lives out of town might be easier to reach in an emergency. During an emergency, family members can text or call this person to let them know that they are safe.
- Make sure all your family members know how to text. Make sure everyone knows how to turn on a cell phone, find the text messaging app, type a message, and send it to a contact.
- Know emergency telephone numbers. Keep them in your cell phone and post them near your home phones. Some good numbers to have are your emergency contact, the fire department, police station, and hospital near you.
Get the kids ready!
- Teach kids how and when to call 911.
- Quiz your kids on the plan to make sure they remember what to do.
- Include your kids in planning and drills.
Ready Wrigley can help your kids be prepared for many kinds of emergencies!
Make a Family Disaster Plan
Before making your disaster plan, it is important to know what types of emergencies are likely in your area and the best way to respond. For example, if tornadoes are common in your area, you will need to know what the warning signs are and where to take shelter. Check with your Local Red Cross chapter or Emergency Management Agency for more information about disasters that might happen in your community.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. For example, during an earthquake you will need to “drop, cover, and hold on” under a sturdy desk or table. However, during a tornado, you would need to seek shelter in a lower level room without windows. Learn more about different types of disasters.
- Choose multiple meeting places. Different disasters may require you to go to different places. Make sure you choose a meeting place in your neighborhood, a meeting place just outside your neighborhood, and a meeting place out of town.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways to get out of each room.
- Practice, practice, practice. Review these plans with all members of your family. Practice your disaster plans by running drills with the whole family.
- Don’t Forget Pets! Think about what you would do with your pets, because they may not be allowed in emergency shelters. For more information, check out Preparing Your Pet for Emergencies.
There are many ways that authorities share emergency warnings, updates, and safety instructions. Take steps now to make sure you’ll get the information you need when an emergency happens.
- Check with your local emergency management agency. Find out what kinds of emergencies could happen in your area.
- Find out how to get local emergency alerts.Check with your local health department or emergency management agency to see how they share emergency information and find out the best ways to get disaster information from local authorities. Some communities use:
- Emergency texts
- Phone calling systems
- Digital road signs
- Social media
- Sirens and speakers
- Learn about your community’s warning signals. Be able to recognize what the warning signals sound and look like and what you should do when you hear or see them.
- Tune in. Listen to and watch reliable news sources. Keep a weather radio handy.
Watches and Warnings
In addition to understanding how you will be informed of potential threats, you need to understand the terms that are used for weather threats.
- A watch means that there is a high possibility that a weather emergency will occur. When a severe storm watch is issued for your area, continue to listen to the radio or television for updates and pay attention to visible weather changes around you.
- A warning means that a weather emergency is already happening, or will happen soon. When you hear a warning, take immediate action