Emergency Preparedness

Disaster Preparedness

What is a disaster? 

According to Webster's Dictionary, a disaster is "Any event that overwhelms existing resources to deal with the event".

Disasters may be natural or caused by human actions, may occur in any season of the year and may cover a limited or a wide-ranging geographic area. 

  • Earthquake

  • Hurricane

  • Tornado

  • Blizzard

  • Flood

  • Act of terrorism (e.g., bombing)

  • Civil disturbance (e.g., riot)

  • Hazardous materials incident

When a disaster occurs, it has a cascading effect because of its impact on the infrastructure:  transportation, utilities, communications systems, fuel supplies, and water supplies – the services and delivery systems on which we depend.  When one of these important elements in our support system breaks down, it has a domino effect, causing other elements to falter.  When multiple elements break down, the effect can be crippling.

Service Priorities

Because emergency services are likely to have inadequate resources to meet the needs in a disaster situation, those resources must be applied according to highest priority need:

Fire Department Suppression of major fires
Police Department Establishes order and safe ingress/egress to and from the disaster area
Paramedic Life-threatening injuries

Lower priority needs may have to be met in other ways.

Nonstructural Hazards

Fixtures and items within a home, garage, or office can pose hazards during or after a disaster event.  The following are examples of some of the nonstructural hazards that may be encountered:

  • Gas line ruptures from water heaters or ranges displaced by shock or water.

  • Damage from falling books, dishes, or other cabinet contents.

  • Risk of injury or electric shock from displaced appliances and office equipment.

  • Hazardous products within reach of children.

Assembling and Storing Survival Supplies

You can cope best by preparing for a disaster before it strikes.  One way to prepare is by assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit.  Once disaster hits, you won't have time to shop or search for supplies, but if you've gathered supplies in advance, you and your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.

To prepare your kit:

  • Review the following information.

  • Gather the supplies that are needed.

  • Place the supplies you're apt to need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container.

Water Storage

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 2 quarts of water each day.  Hot environments and intense physical activity can double that amount.  Children, nursing mothers, and ill people will need more.

  • Store 1 gallon of water per person per day (2 quarts for drinking, 2 quarts for food Preparation/sanitation.)

  • Keep at least a 3-day supply of water for each person in your household.

  • If you have questions about the quality of the water, purify it before drinking.  You can heat water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes or use commercial purification tablets to purify the water.  You can also use household liquid chlorine bleach if it is pure, un-scented 5.25% sodium hypo chlorite.  To purify water, use the following information as a guide:

Water Quantity Bleach Added
1 Quart 4 Drops
1 Gallon 16 Drops
5 Gallons 1 Teaspoon

After adding bleach, shake or stir the water container and let it stand 30 minutes before drinking.

Special Items

For Baby

  • Formula

  • Diapers

  • Bottles

  • Powdered Milk

  • Medications

For Adults

  • Heart and high blood pressure medication

  • Insulin

  • Prescription drugs

  • Denture needs

  • Contact lenses and supplies

  • Extra eye glasses


Games and books

Important Family Documents

  • Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container

  • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds

  • Passports, social security cards, immunization records

  • Bank account numbers

  • Credit card account numbers and companies

  • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers

  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)

Clothing and Bedding

  • Include at least one complete change of clothing and footwear per person

  • Sturdy shoes or work boots

  • Rain gear

  • Blankets or sleeping bags

  • Hat and gloves

  • Thermal underwear

  • Sunglasses

Home First Aid Kit


Nonprescription Drugs

Moistened towelettes Aspirin or non-aspirin pain reliever
Antiseptic Anti-diarrhea medication
Thermometer Antacid (for stomach upset)
Tongue blades (2) Syrup of Ipecac (used to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center
Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant Laxative
Assorted sizes of safety pins Activated charcoal (used if advised by the Poison Control Center
Cleaning agent/soap Latex gloves (2 pair)


Tools and Supplies


Mess kits or paper cups, places & plastic utensils Non-electric can opener, utility knife
Emergency Preparedness manual Fire extinguisher - small canister ABC type
Battery-operated radio & extra batteries Tube Tent
Flashlight & extra batteries Pliers
Cash or traveler's checks, change Tape


Food Storage

Store at least a 3-day supply of nonperishable food.  Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking and little or no water.  If you must heat food, pack a can of Sterno.  Select food items that are compact and lightweight. 

Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits & vegetables Vitamins
Canned juices, milk, soup (if powdered store extra water) Foods for infants, elderly persons or persons on special diets
Staples - sugar, salt, pepper Comfort/stress foods - cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, tea bags
High-energy goods - peanut butter Jelly, crackers, granola bars, trail mix


Medical First Aid Kit

Assemble a medical first aid kit for your home and one for each car.  A first aid kit should include:

Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6) 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6) Scissors
Hypoallergenic adhesive tape Tweezers
Triangular bandages (3)  


Creating A Family Disaster Plan

Exit Drills In the Home

  1. Meet with your family.

  2. Discuss the types of disasters that could occur.

  3. Explain how to prepare and respond.

  4. Discuss what to do if advised to evacuate.

  5. Practice what you have discussed.

  6. Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster.

  7. Pick two meeting places:  (a) A location a safe distance from your home in case of fire; (b) A place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home; (c) Choose an out-of-state friend as a “check in contact” for everyone to call.

Complete the following steps:

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.

  • Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas, and electricity at main switches.

  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms; test them monthly and change the batteries two times each year.  (Change batteries when you change your clocks in the spring and fall.)

  • Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazard.

  • Learn first aid and CPR.

  • Meet with your neighbors.

  • Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster

  • Know your neighbors' skills (medical, technical.)

  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons.

  • Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.

Evacuation Planning

Develop an escape plan that provides for escape from every room.  As part of your escape plan:

  • Consider the needs of children and physically challenged individuals.

  • Inform all family members or office coworkers of the plan.

  • Run Practice escape drills