Individuals & Families
What can you do to make your family better prepared for an emergency? Follow the three basic steps, “Make a Kit, Make a Plan and Stay Informed,” and you will be more ready for almost any disaster affecting your community.
Make an Emergency Kit
You should assemble a kit that contains at least three days worth of emergency supplies for all family members.
The kit should be stored in a cool, dry place in one or two rugged, water-resistant containers. Individual items within containers should be stored in plastic bags for added water resistance.
The kit should be light enough so that a single adult or teenager can easily transport it.
The Preparedness Program has created an Emergency Supply Checklist (PDF) with recommended items families should have during an emergency.
Build a Plan
Your family should have a well-thought-out plan for contacting one another during and after an emergency.
Establish Meeting Places
You should select two meeting places where everyone can meet if you must leave your home quickly. One of these places should be near your home but a safe distance away, such as the nearest major street or roadway corner. The second place is somewhere you would go if a disaster makes it impossible for you to return to the area where you live. This could be the home of a friend or relative in another part of town or a nearby town.
Identify a Contact Person
Next, you should ask someone to serve as a contact person, such as an out-of-town relative. Every family member should be able to reach this person by phone and should contact them as soon as possible if an emergency occurs. The designated contact person should be given contact information for all family members.
Ensure You Will Have a Phone
If family members have mobile phones, the number for the emergency contact person should be programmed into everyone’s phone, along with those of each family member. Each phone should have a travel charger Important contact information can then be written down for family members to carry in their wallets or purses along with their cards.
Stay informed of world events and monitor your local television and radio stations to obtain official information during an emergency. Be alert and promptly notify law enforcement of any suspicious activity you might observe. Purchase a NOAA Weather Alert radio, which will provide information not only about weather emergencies, but any widespread emergency affecting your community.
Cash or Traveler’s Checks
While it is not recommended that people store large amounts of cash in their home, traveler’s checks are a good option for ensuring that your family has enough currency on hand for at least three days. Adult family members should carry debit or credit cards with them at all times. Change may be necessary for paying highway tolls or can be used for making calls from payphones.
Mobile Phones & Chargers or Prepaid Calling Cards
Although phone service might not be available during an emergency, people who have mobile phones should carry these with them at all times and keep all phone numbers for each family member programmed. Each family vehicle should contain a charger for each person’s mobile phone. Prepaid calling cards are a good, low-cost alternative for helping to make sure that everyone is able to make a phone call during an emergency.
Extra Clothing, Toiletries & Cosmetics
Just as if you were planning to travel on business or pleasure, you might want to include these items in your kit. However, they will add bulk and weight.
Vehicles should always be kept as fully fueled as expenses allow in case it becomes necessary to evacuate. People should not store gasoline in their home, because this poses a fire hazard. Store an empty, approved gasoline container in your vehicle for getting gas in case you run out - do not keep it filled.
Matches in a Waterproof Container
This can be a small, low-cost source of heat and light for warmth and cooking in an emergency, but is a possible safety hazard for small children and probably not necessary for evacuating to a pre-determined location such as a hotel or a relative’s home (see Make a Plan, in the next tab).