Preparing for Disasters

Three Fire Trucks with Ladders ExtendedWhen disaster strikes, you may not have much time to act. Prepare now for a sudden emergency.

The checklist below will help you get started. Discuss these ideas with your family and prepare an emergency plan. Post the plan where everyone will see it - on the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

For additional information about how to prepare for hazards in your community, contact:

What You Should Know

  • What disasters could occur in your area and ask how to prepare for each disaster.
  • How you will be warned of an emergency and your community’s evacuation routes.
  • Special assistance for elderly or disabled persons.
  • Emergency plans at your workplace, school, day care center, etc.

Home Hazard Hunt

In a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury and damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a potential hazard.

  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.
  • Fasten shelves securely and brace overhead light fixtures.
  • Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Hang pictures and mirrors away from beds.
  • Strap water heater to wall studs.
  • Repair cracks in ceilings or foundations.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides and flammable products away from heat sources.
  • Place oily polishing rags or waste in covered metal cans.
  • Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors and gas vents.

If You Need to Evacuate

Should you need to evacuate your home, please consider the following:

  • Listen to a battery-powered radio for the location of emergency shelters. Follow the instructions of local officials.
  • Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your disaster supply kit.
  • Lock your house.
  • Use travel routes specified by local officials.

If you are sure you have time:

  • Shut off water, gas and electricity, if instructed to do so.
  • Let others know when you left and where you are going.
  • Make arrangements for pets. Animals may not be allowed in public shelters.

Emergency Car Kit

Keep a kit in your car at all times that includes the following items:

  • Battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Blanket
  • Booster cables
  • Fire extinguisher (5 pound, A-B-C type)
  • First aid kit and manual
  • Bottled water and non-perishable high-energy foods such as granola bars, raisins and peanut butter.
  • Maps, shovel, flares
  • Tire-repair kit and pump

*Information presented on this page was excerpted from brochures and newsletters created by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. For additional information, please contact your local EMA office and American Red Cross chapter or visit and