30 Tips for
Here are 30 tips to help you
and your family become better prepared for an emergency.
Preparedness Tip #1
Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency,
like a fire in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are
the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of
each room. Now, write it down — you’ve got the beginning of a
Preparedness Tip #2
Pick a place to meet after a disaster.
Designate two meeting places. Choose one right outside your
home, in case of a sudden household emergency, such as a fire. The second
place you choose needs to be outside your neighborhood, in the event that
it is not safe to stay near or return to your home.
Preparedness Tip #3
Choose an emergency contact person outside your area
because it may be easier to call long distance than locally after a
local/regional disaster. Take a minute now to call or e-mail an
out-of-town friend or family member to ask him or her to be your family’s
designated contact in the event of an emergency. Be sure to share the
contact's phone number with everyone in the family. During an emergency,
you can call your contact who can share with other family members where
you are; how you are doing; and how to get in contact with you.
Preparedness Tip #4
Complete an emergency contact card and make copies
for each member of your family to carry with them. Be sure to include an
out-of-town contact on your contact card. It may be easier to reach
someone out of town if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded.
You should also have at least one traditionally wired landline phone, as
cordless or cellular phones may not work in an emergency. Visit
www.redcross.org or www.ready.gov for sample
emergency contact cards.
Preparedness Tip #5
Dogs may be man’s best friend,
but due to health regulations, most emergency shelters cannot house
animals. Find out in advance how to care for your pets and working animals
when disaster strikes. Pets should not be left behind, but could be taken
to a veterinary office, family member’s home or animal shelter during an
emergency. Also be sure to store extra food and water for pets. For
more information, visit the Animal Safety section on
www.redcross.org or visit the
Humane Society Web site at www.hsus.org
Preparedness Tip #6
Go through your calendar now, and put a reminder on
it — every six months — to review your plan, update numbers, and check
supplies to be sure nothing has expired, spoiled, or changed. Also
remember to practice your tornado, fire escape or other disaster
Preparedness Tip #7
Check your child’s school Web site or call the school
office to request a copy of the school’s emergency plan. Keep a copy at
home and work or other places where you spend a lot of your time and make
sure the school’s plan is incorporated into your family’s emergency plan.
Also, learn about the disaster plans at your workplace or other
places where you and your family spend time.
Preparedness Tip #8
Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or
your local Emergency Medical Services number for help. Post these
and other emergency telephone numbers by telephones.
Preparedness Tip #9
Practice. Conduct fire drills and practice evacuating
your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot
alternate routes on a map in case main roads are blocked or gridlocked.
Practice earthquake and tornado drills at home, school and work. Commit a
weekend to update telephone numbers, emergency supplies and review your
plan with everyone.
Preparedness Tip #10
A community working together during an emergency
- Talk to your neighbors
about how you can work together during an emergency.
- Find out if anyone has
specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as
medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
- Decide who will check on
elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Make back-up plans for
children in case you can't get home in an emergency.
Sharing plans and
communicating in advance is a good strategy
Preparedness Tip #11
What if disaster strikes while you’re at work?
Do you know the emergency preparedness plan for your workplace?
While many companies have been more alert and pro-active in
preparing for disasters of all types since the September 11, 2001 attacks,
a national survey indicates that many employees still don’t know what
their workplace plan is for major or minor disasters. If you don’t know
yours, make a point to ask. Know multiple ways to exit your building,
participate in workplace evacuation drills, and consider keeping some
emergency supplies at the office. Visit
www.ready.gov and click on
Ready Business for more information about business
Preparedness Tip #12
You should keep enough supplies in your home
to meet the needs of you and your family for at least three days. Build an
emergency supply kit to take with you in an evacuation. The basics to
stock in your portable kit include: water, food, battery-powered radio and
flashlight with extra batteries, first aid supplies, change of clothing,
blanket or sleeping bag, wrench or pliers, whistle, dust mask, plastic
sheeting and duct tape, trash bags, map, a manual can opener for canned
food and special items for infants, elderly, the sick or people with
disabilities. Keep these items in an easy to carry container such as a
covered trash container, a large backpack, or a duffle bag.
Preparedness Tip #13
Preparing for emergencies needn’t be expensive if
you’re thinking ahead and buying small quantities at a time. Make a list
of some foods that:
- Have a long shelf-life and
will not spoil (non-perishable).
- You and your family like.
- Do not require cooking.
- Can be easily stored.
- Have a low salt content as
salty foods will make you more thirsty.
Keep the list in your purse or
wallet and pick up a few items each time you’re shopping and/or see a sale
until you have built up a well-stocked supply that can sustain each member
of your family for at least three days following an emergency.
Preparedness Tip #14
Take a minute to check your family’s first aid kit,
and note any depleted items — then, add them to your shopping list. Don’t
have a first aid kit? Add that to the list or build a kit yourself.
Just add the following items to your shopping list and assemble a
first aid kit. Consider creating a kit for each vehicle as
First Aid Kits - Assemble a
first aid kit for your home and one for each car.
- (20) adhesive bandages,
- (1) 5" x 9" sterile
- (1) conforming roller gauze
- (2) triangular bandages
- (2) 3 x 3 sterile gauze
- (2) 4 x 4 sterile gauze
- (1) roll 3" cohesive
- (2) germicidal hand wipes
or waterless alcohol-based hand sanitizer
- (6) antiseptic wipes
- (2) pair large medical
grade non-latex gloves
- Adhesive tape, 2" width
- Anti-bacterial ointment
- Cold pack
- Scissors (small, personal)
- CPR breathing barrier, such
as a face shield
- First Aid Manual
- Aspirin or non-aspirin pain
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for stomach upset)
- Syrup of Ipecac (use to
induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Activated charcoal (use if
advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Prescription drugs, as
recommended by your physician, and copies of the prescriptions in case
they need to be replaced
For more information about
first aid kits, visit www.redcross.org.
Preparedness Tip #15
Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
Store a minimum of one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for
drinking, two quarts for food preparation and sanitation). Store water in
plastic containers such as soft drink bottles. Avoid using containers that
will decompose or break, such as milk cartons or glass bottles. A normally
active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot
environments and strenuous activity can double that amount. Children,
nursing mothers, and people who are sick will also need more.
Preparedness Tip #16
One of the easiest ways you can prepare for
emergencies is to keep some supplies readily available. Every kit is
unique and can be tailored to meet the specific needs of your family, but
below is a general list of supplies you may want to consider:
Tools and Supplies (Essential Items are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Mess kits, or paper cups,
plates, and plastic utensils
- Emergency preparedness
manual and a copy of your disaster plan, including your emergency
- Battery-operated radio and
- Flashlight and extra
- Cash or traveler's checks,
- Non-electric can opener,
- Fire extinguisher: small
ABC type stored near where fires are likely to occur such as a kitchen,
or near a fireplace. It should not be kept in the disaster supplies kit.
- Tube tent
- Duct Tape*
- Matches in a waterproof
- Aluminum foil
- Plastic storage containers
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil*
- Needles, thread
- Medicine dropper
- Shut-off wrench or pliers,
to turn off household gas and water
- Plastic sheeting*
- Map of the area (for
locating shelters and evacuation routes)
(Continued in the next
Preparedness Tip #17
Also include items for sanitation in your emergency
supply kit. Consider the following:
Sanitation (Essential Items
are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Toilet paper, towelettes*
- Soap, liquid detergent*
- Feminine supplies*
- Personal hygiene items*
- Plastic garbage bags, ties
(for personal sanitation uses)*
- Plastic bucket with tight
- Household chlorine bleach
(Continued in the next
Preparedness Tip #18
Include at least one complete change of clothing and
footwear per person in your emergency supply kit. We suggest long
pants and long sleeves for additional protection after a
Clothing and Bedding (Essential Items are Marked with an Asterisk *)
- Sturdy shoes or work boots*
- Rain gear*
- Blankets or sleeping bags*
- Hat and gloves
- Thermal underwear
Preparedness Tip #19
You should also keep a smaller version of
your emergency supply kit in your vehicle, in case you are commuting or
traveling when disaster strikes.
Emergency Kit For Your
- Bottled water and
non-perishable high energy foods, such as granola bars, raisins and
- Flashlight and extra
- Booster cables
- Fire extinguisher (5 lb.,
- First aid kit and manual
- Tire repair kit and pump
- Flares or other emergency
Preparedness Tip #20
Teach children how to dial 9-1-1 in an
emergency. Review emergency action steps with all family
- Check the scene and the
- Call 9-1-1 or your local
emergency number posted by the telephone
- Care for the victim
Help your children learn more
about emergencies. Download this preparedness coloring
book . or visit Red Cross' " Masters of
Preparedness Tip #21
Read the information on your city, county and/or
state government Web sites as well as the “Be Prepared” section of
www.redcross.org or Ready.gov and print emergency
preparedness information. Be sure to keep a copy with your disaster
supplies kit. It can provide telephone numbers, addresses and other
information you need when electronic connections are not available options
for obtaining the information.
Preparedness Tip #22
When water is of questionable purity, it is
easiest to use bottled water for drinking and cooking if it is available.
When it’s not available, it is important to know how to treat contaminated
water. In addition to having a bad odor and taste, water from questionable
sources may be contaminated by a variety of microorganisms, including,
bacteria and parasites that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera,
typhoid, and hepatitis. All water of uncertain purity should be treated
before use. Use one or a combination of these treatments:
- Filter: Filter the
water using a piece of cloth or coffee filter to remove solid particles.
- Boil: Bring it to a
rolling boil for about one full minute. Cool it and pour it back and
forth between two clean containers to improve its taste before drinking
- Add 16 drops (1/8
teaspoon) of liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water. Stir to mix.
Sodium hypochlorite of the concentration of 5.25% to 6% should be the
only active ingredient in the bleach. There should not be any added
soap or fragrances. A major bleach manufacturer has also added Sodium
Hydroxide as an active ingredient, which they state does not pose a
health risk for water treatment.
- Let stand 30
- If it smells of chlorine.
You can use it. If it does not smell of chlorine, add 16 more drops
(1/8 teaspoon) of chlorine bleach per gallon of water, let stand 30
minutes, and smell it again. If it smells of chlorine, you can use it.
If it does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source
Flood water can also be
contaminated by toxic chemicals. Do NOT try to treat flood
Preparedness Tip #23
In some emergencies you may be required to turn off
your utilities. To prepare for this type of event:
- Locate the electric, gas
and water shut-off valves.
- Keep necessary tools
near gas and water shut-off valves
- Teach adult family members
how to turn off utilities.
If you turn off the gas, a
professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this
Preparedness Tip #24
Understand that during an emergency you may be asked
to “shelter-in-place” or evacuate. Plan for both possibilities and be
prepared to listen to instructions from your local emergency management
Ready.gov and www.redcross.org/preparedness
for more information on sheltering-in-place.
Preparedness Tip #25
A disaster can cause significant financial loss. Your
apartment or home may be severely damaged or destroyed. You may be forced
to live in temporary housing. Income may be cut off or significantly
reduced. Important financial records could be destroyed. Take the time now
to assess your situation and ask questions.
To help you, consider using
the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK), a tool developed by
Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps or contact your local Red Cross
chapter for Disasters and Financial Planning:
A Guide for Preparedness .
Preparedness Tip #26
Learn if earthquakes are a risk in your area by
contacting your local emergency management office, local American Red
Cross chapter, or state geological survey or department of natural
resources. Information about earthquake risk is also available from
U.S. Geological Survey National Seismic Hazards
Preparedness Tip #27
Floods are among the most frequent and costly natural
disasters in terms of human hardship and economic loss. As much as 90
percent of the damage related to all natural disasters (excluding draught)
is caused by floods and associated debris flow. Most communities in the
United States can experience some kind of flooding. Melting snow can
combine with rain in the winter and early spring; severe thunderstorms can
bring heavy rain in the spring or summer; or hurricanes can bring intense
rainfall to coastal and inland states in the summer and fall. Regardless
of how a flood occurs, the rule for being safe is simple: head for higher
ground and stay away from floodwater. Even a shallow depth of fast-moving
floodwater produces more force than most people imagine. You can protect
yourself by being prepared and having time to act. Local radio or
television stations or a NOAA Weather Radio are the best sources of
information in a flood situation.
Preparedness Tip #28
When there is concern about a potential exposure to a
chemical or other airborne hazard, local officials may advise you to
"shelter-in-place “ and “seal the room.” This is different from taking
shelter on the lowest level of your home in case of a natural disaster
like a tornado. If you believe the air may be badly contaminated or if you
are instructed by local officials, follow the instructions below to create
a temporary barrier between you and the contaminated air
To shelter-in-place and
- Close and lock all windows
and exterior doors.
- Turn off all fans, heating
and air conditioning systems.
- Close the fireplace damper.
- Get your disaster supplies
kit and turn on your battery-powered radio.
- Go to an interior room that
is above ground level and without windows, if possible. In the case of a
chemical threat, an above-ground location is preferable because some
chemicals are heavier than air, and may seep into basements even if the
windows are closed.
- If directed by local
authorities on the radio, use duct tape to seal all cracks around the
door and any vents into the room. Tape plastic sheeting, such as
heavy-duty plastic garbage bags, over any windows.
- Listen to your radio or
television for further instructions. Local officials will tell you when
you can leave the room in which you are sheltering, or they may call for
evacuation in specific areas at greatest risk in your community
Preparedness Tip #29
If there is an explosion:
- Take shelter against your
desk or a sturdy table.
- Exit the building
- Do not use elevators.
- Check for fire and other
- Take your emergency supply
kit if time allows.
If there is a fire:
- Exit the building
- If there is smoke, crawl
under the smoke to the nearest exit and use a cloth, if possible, to
cover your nose and mouth.
- Use the back of your hand
to feel the upper, lower, and middle parts of closed doors.
- If the door is not hot,
brace yourself against it and open slowly.
- If the door is hot, do not
open it. Look for another way out.
- Do not use elevators.
- If your clothes catch on
fire, stop-drop-and-roll to put out the fire. Do not run.
- If you are at home, go to
your previously designated outside meeting place.
- Account for your family
members and carefully supervise small children.
- GET OUT and STAY OUT. Never
go back into a burning building.
- Call 9-1-1 or your local
Preparedness Tip #30
Unlike an explosion, a biological attack may or may
not be immediately obvious. Most likely local health care workers will
report a pattern of unusual illness or a wave of sick people seeking
medical attention. The best source of information will be radio or
Understand that some
biological agents, such as anthrax, do not cause contagious diseases.
Others, like the smallpox virus, can result in diseases you can catch from
In the event of a biological
attack, public health officials may not immediately be able to provide
information on what you should do. It will take time to determine exactly
what the illness is, how it should be treated, and who may have been
exposed. You should watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the Internet
for official news including the following:
- Are you in the group or
area authorities believe may have been exposed?
- What are the signs and
symptoms of the disease?
- Are medications or vaccines
- Where? Who should get them
- Where should you seek
emergency medical care if you become sick?
During a declared biological
If you are potentially
- Follow instructions of
doctors and other public health officials.
- If the disease is
contagious expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment. You may
be advised to stay away from others or even deliberately quarantined.
- For non-contagious
diseases, expect to receive medical evaluation and treatment.
If you become aware of an
unusual and suspicious substance nearby:
- Quickly get away.
- Protect yourself. Cover
your mouth and nose with layers of fabric that can filter the air but
still allow breathing. Examples include two to three layers of cotton
such as a t-shirt, handkerchief or towel. Otherwise, several layers of
tissue or paper towels may help.
- Wash with soap and water.
- Contact authorities.
- Watch TV, listen to the
radio, or check the Internet for official news and information including
what the signs and symptoms of the disease are, if medications or
vaccinations are being distributed and where you should seek medical
attention if you become sick.
- If you become sick seek
emergency medical attention.