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Be Prepared: Five Steps to Protect Your Family During a Disaster

Release date: 
February 16, 2007
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1 Develop a Family Communications Plan

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing emergency plans ahead of time reduces fear and anxiety and ensures everyone knows how to respond. Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency.

2 Decide to Stay or Go

Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information to determine if there is immediate danger. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet often for information or official instructions as it becomes available. By planning in advance, you will be ready to do whichever you need to do quickly.

3 Get a NOAA Weather Radio (NWR)

NWR provides a 24 hour alerting system for public safety hazards ? not just severe weather warnings. Unlike television or regular radio, the NOAA Weather Radio has an alarm to alert you to hazards ? which can save lives if a disaster strikes during the night. The NWR has a battery backup in case of electrical power outages.

4 Assemble an Emergency Supply Kit

You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. 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.

  • Emergency supplies such as water, food, first aid kits, and tools should be stored in a safe place, in the event of an emergency that makes leaving unsafe or you are unable to leave. At

the same time, storing supplies in portable containers will mean that your supplies will be ready to go with you at a moment's notice.

  • Prepare enough supplies to last at least 3 days.
  • In addition to basic supplies, consider the needs of individual family members. Extra eyeglasses or special foods are examples of special individual needs.
  • Money may not be available from ATMs or banks. Store cash in a locked, watertight container with emergency supplies.
  • Documents such as birth, death, and marriage certificates, insurance policies, and bank account records should be copied and stored in waterproof, fireproof, portable containers.

5 Make an Emergency Plan for Your Pet

Pet owners should assemble an emergency supply kit that includes enough pet food and water for three days, medications and medical records, leashes, ID tags and other appropriate supplies. Pet owners should also have an emergency plan in place that considers their pets' needs and the types of emergencies that can happen in their area.

For more information on disaster planning, visit the Kansas Division of Emergency Management's preparedness website at or visit the Department of Homeland Security's .

FEMA prepares the nation for all hazards and manages federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates mitigation activities, trains first responders, works with state and local emergency managers, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration. FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on March 1, 2003.

Last Updated: 
July 8, 2017 - 11:12
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