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disaster kit photo from red crossPrepare for an Emergency | Emergency Medical Supplies | Meeting Points

Personal Support Network | Know Your Neighbors

  Elderly or People with Disabilities | Infants, Toddlers, and Children

Pets / Livestock


Prepare for an Emergency

In an emergency, response agencies and public health departments will be managing the crisis and will rely on the public to follow emergency instructions and react quickly.

Some ways you can prepare for an emergency are:

  • Know where and how to get information in the event of an emergency. Have at least one battery-operated radio in case there is a power failure.

  • Make a disaster kit. A disaster supplies kit has basic items that members of a household may need in the event of a disaster. Supplies such as food and water should last for at least three days.

  • Be sure your family’s vaccinations are up to date, including vaccinations against pneumonia for older family members. Check with your medical provider if you are unsure.

  • Don’t immediately leave home if there is an emergency. Sometimes it is safer to stay where you are. Listen to the radio or television for instructions.

  • Be aware of neighbors, friends or relatives who may need help during an emergency. 

  • Have a plan for your family in the event of an evacuation. Agree where to meet and what family members or friends to notify. Know who will pick up children at school or daycare.

  • Keep children and pets indoors after an emergency. Dangers such as live wires, flooded viaducts and pollution can remain long after the immediate emergency ends.

  • Familiarize yourself with school or daycare emergency procedures. In the event of an emergency, know where children will be taken.

  • Be alert for environmental or fire hazards around your property.

  • Every adult in your house should know how to turn off electricity, water and gas in an emergency.

  • Have a fire extinguisher and know how and when to use it. Check the expiration date to be sure it is working. If you have questions, ask your local fire department.

  • Take a CPR and first-aid class so you know what to do in an emergency. Your local health department or Red Cross office can give you more information.

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Medical Emergency Supplies

For safety and comfort, persons with special needs should have emergency supplies packed and ready in one place before a disaster hits. Assemble enough supplies to last at least three days.

  • Assemble the medical and general supplies you would need in an evacuation, including prescription medication (check expiration dates).

  • Store them in an easy-to-carry container, such as a backpack or duffel bag.

  • Be sure your bag has an ID tag.

  • Label any equipment, such as wheelchairs, canes or walkers that you would need.

After an Emergency Occurs 

During and after an emergency it is important to stay calm. Even after an event, there may still be many dangers. What seems like a safe distance or location may not be. Stay tuned to your local emergency station and follow the advice of trained professionals. Unless told to evacuate, stay off the roads to allow emergency vehicles access. What you do next can save your life and the lives of others.

  • Remain calm and assist family members or neighbors who may be vulnerable if exposed to extreme heat or cold. 

  • Locate a flashlight with batteries to use until power comes back on. Do not use candles — this can cause a fire.

  • Turn off sensitive electrical equipment such as computers, VCRs and televisions to prevent damage when electricity is restored.

  • Turn off major electrical and gas appliances that were on when the power went off. This will help to prevent power surges when electricity is restored.

  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep in cold.

  • Do not use the stove to heat your home — this can cause a fire or fatal gas leak.

  • If you must drive, use extreme caution. If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign — come to a complete stop at every intersection and look before you proceed.

  • Do not call 911 to ask about a power outage. In case of a power outage, use battery-operated equipment or your car radio for updates.

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Meeting Points

After a disaster it may be impossible for family members to return home. It is very important that you select a meeting point in the community where you can join the members of your household.

Elderly or People with Disabilities

An elderly person or a person with disabilities may face challenges if an emergency strikes. If you learn about the challenges that you may face and are prepared ahead of time, you will be better able to cope with the disaster and recover more quickly.

Personal Support Network

The best way to prepare is to establish a personal support network. A personal support network is made up of individuals who will check with you in an emergency to ensure you are OK and to give assistance if needed. This network can consist of friends, roommates, family members, relatives, personal attendants, co-workers and neighbors.

You and your personal support network should notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return, and learn about each other’s needs and how to help each other in an emergency. You could be responsible for food supplies and preparation, organizing neighborhood watch meetings, interpreting, etc.

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Know Your Neighbors

Working with neighbors in an emergency can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how you could work together until help arrives. If you’re a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce emergency preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors’ special skills and consider how you could help those with special needs, such as people with disabilities and elderly persons.

Infants, Toddlers, and Children 

Infants and children require special attention immediately after disasters.

  • Your emergency supplies should include enough baby formula, baby food, diapers, bottles, toys and games to keep small infants safe and comfortable at least three days after a disaster.

  • If children are at preschool, daycare or school, it is important that parents orPhoto of Children guardians know the emergency procedures of the school. Review and update information on your child’s emergency card.

  • Make sure you authorize someone nearby to pick up your children from school in case you are unable to travel to the school after a disaster.

  • Parents should inform neighbors when their children are home alone so neighbors can take care of them in the event of a major disaster.

Effective ways to deal with children after an emergency event:

  • Encourage children to talk about their fears. Let them ask questions and describe how they're feeling. Listen to what they say, as a family group, when possible.

  • Reassure them with love. Tell them they are safe, everything will be all right, and life will return to normal again.

  • Keep them informed, in simple language, about what is happening.

  • Emphasize that they are not responsible for what happened.

  • Hold and hug them frequently.

  • Encourage them to return to school and discuss problems with teachers and to resume playing games, riding bikes and other such activities.

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Pets or Livestock

When preparing for a potential emergency, don’t forget to include pets and livestock. Here are some ideas for preparing to protect your animals during a disaster:

  • Talk to your veterinarian about evacuation and emergency care for your animals.

  • Identify an emergency animal shelter location nearby: kennels, adjoining farms, state and local fairgrounds, etc.

  • Get to know the policies and staff of your local animal control authority, as well as the local animal non-profit rescue and care groups.

  • Ask neighbors and friends to evacuate your animals if a disaster strikes when you are away.

  • License your companion animals; make sure your animals can be easily identified so they can be reunited with you after a disaster; and keep all vaccinations current. Take pictures of you with your animal(s) to show proof of ownership if you are separated during a disaster.

  • Have copies of medical records for your pets and livestock.

  • Prepare an evacuation plan for livestock. Your plan should include a list of resources such as trucks, trailers, pasture and/or feed which might be needed in an evacuation, as well as a designated person who will unlock gates and doors and make your facility easily accessible to emergency personnel. Make sure that everyone who lives, works or boards livestock at your farm is familiar with the plan.

  • If you must leave animals behind, post a highly visible sign (either on a window or a door) letting rescue workers know the breed and number of animals which remain. Leave plenty of food and water.

  • If your animal becomes lost, immediately call or visit the nearest animal shelter or emergency command post. If you find a lost animal, notify the local animal shelter as soon as possible and be prepared to give a full description of the animal (i.e., color, breed, sex) and its location.

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Last Revised:  July 27, 2011