Emergency preparedness is not the sole concern of Californians for earthquakes, those who live in "Tornado Alley" or Gulf Coast residents because of hurricanes. Most communities could be impacted by several types of hazards during a lifetime. Americans also travel more than ever before and may visit areas impacted by hazards they don’t risk at home. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.
Some of the basic protective actions are similar for multiple hazards. For example, safety is necessary when experiencing all hazards, whether this means sheltering or evacuating depends on the specific emergency. Developing a plan and making an emergency supply kit are the same for accidental emergencies, natural disasters and also terrorism. However, there are important differences among potential emergencies that should impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.
Creating a Plan
Prepare yourself and your family for a disaster by making an emergency plan. Visit the federal government's Ready website and download a sample family emergency plan to get started. Your emergency planning should also address the care of pets, aiding family members with access and functional needs and safely shutting off utilities.
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at work, child care and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
Once you’ve collected this important information, gather your family members and discuss the information you put in the plan. Practice your plan at least twice a year and update it according to any issues that arise.
A disaster supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Building a Kit
Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment’s notice and take essentials with you. You will probably not have time to search for the supplies you need or shop for them.
You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least 72 hours. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours -- or it might take days.
Additionally, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment and telephones may be cut off for days or even a week, or longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages.
Visit the Ready website for more information, including suggested supplies for your emergency kit.