can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate
your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if
basic services--water, gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off?
Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a
disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
Families can--and do--cope with disaster by preparing in advance and
working together as a team. Follow the steps listed in this brochure
to create your family's disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your
best protection and your responsibility.
will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be
anywhere--at work, at school or in the car.
will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?
Out What Could Happen to You
your local emergency management or civil defense office and American
Red Cross chapter--be prepared to take notes:
what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request
information on how to prepare for each.
Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like
and what you should do when you hear them.
about animal care after disaster. Animals may not be allowed
inside emergency shelters due to health regulations.
out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your
children's school or daycare center and other places where your
family spends time.
Create a Disaster Plan
with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster.
Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to
children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a
Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen.
Explain what to do in each case.
two places to meet:
1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a
Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone
must know the address and phone number.
an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a
disaster, its often easier to call long distance. Other family
members should call this person and tell them where they are.
Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your
Complete This Checklist
emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance,
Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency
Medical Services number for emergency help.
each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and
electricity at the main switches.
Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC
type), and show them where it's kept.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially
Conduct a home hazard hunt.
Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out
of each room.
the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
Practice and Maintain Your Plan
your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six
and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's
your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least
once a year.
enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three
days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an
evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers
such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers.
three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food
that won't spoil.
change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or
sleeping bag per person.
first aid kit that includes your family's prescription
Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and
plenty of extra batteries.
extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's
Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
extra pair of glasses.
important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a
smaller kit in the trunk of your car.
the main electric fuse/breaker box, water service main and natural gas main.
Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all
responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water
Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are
damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas
off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors
to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster
until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood
organization, such as a home association or crime watch group,
introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your
neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider
how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as
disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case
parents can't get home.
a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or
damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a
home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can
fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential
Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
Evacuate immediately if told to do so:
Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions
of local emergency officials.
protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
your family disaster supplies kit
travel routes specified by local authorities--don't use shortcuts
because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
you're sure you have time:
off water, gas and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do
a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
arrangements for your pets.
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
to your battery powered radio for news and instructions
Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy
for damage in your home...
flashlights--do not light matches or turn on electrical switches,
if you suspect damage.
Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell
gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows,
and get everyone outside quickly.
off any other damaged utilities.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable
Confine or secure your pets.
your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a
Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
away from downed power lines.