Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit

After a disaster, local officials and relief workers will be on the scene, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?

Your family will cope best by preparing for 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, your family can endure an evacuation or home confinement.

To prepare your kit

  • Review the checklists in this document.
  • Gather the supplies that are listed. You may need them if your family is confined at home.
  • Place the supplies you'd most likely need for an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container. These supplies are listed with an asterisk (*).

Disasters happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond.

A highway spill of hazardous material could mean instant evacuation.

A winter storm could confine your family at home. An earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off basic services--gas, water, electricity and telephones--for days.


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 two 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 one gallon of water per person per day (two quarts for drinking, two quarts for food preparation/sanitation)*
    • Keep at least a three-day supply of water for each person in your household.



Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable 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.

*Include a selection of the following foods in your Disaster Supplies Kit:


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


First Aid Kit

Assemble a 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 gauze pads (4-6)
    • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
    • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
    • Triangular bandages (3)
    • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Needle
    • Moistened towelettes
    • Antiseptic
    • Thermometer
    • Tongue blades (2)
    • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
    • Assorted sizes of safety pins
    • Cleansing agent/soap
    • Latex gloves (2 pair)
    • Sunscreen

      Non-prescription drugs

      • Aspirin or nonaspirin pain reliever
      • Anti-diarrhea medication
      • Antacid (for stomach upset)
      • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
      • Laxative
      • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)

Contact your local American Red Cross chapter to obtain a basic first aid manual.


There are six basics you should stock in your home: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies and special items. Keep the items that you would most likely need during an evacuation in an easy-to-carry container--suggested items are marked with an asterisk(*). Possible containers include a large, covered trash container; a camping backpack; or a duffle bag.

Tools and Supplies


    • Mess kits, or paper cups, plates and plastic utensils*
    • Emergency preparedness manual*
    • Battery-operated radio and extra batteries*
    • Flashlight and extra batteries*
    • Cash or traveler's checks, change*
    • Nonelectric can opener, utility knife*
    • Fire extinguisher: small canister, ABC type
    • Tube tent
    • Pliers
    • Tape
    • Compass
    • Matches in a waterproof container
    • Aluminum foil
    • Plastic storage containers
    • Signal flare
    • Paper, pencil
    • Needles, thread
    • Medicine dropper
    • Shut-off wrench, to turn off household gas and water
    • Whistle
    • Plastic sheeting
    • Map of the area (for locating shelters)



    • Toilet paper, towelettes*
    • Soap, liquid detergent*
    • Feminine supplies*
    • Personal hygiene items*
    • Plastic garbage bags, ties (for personal sanitation uses)
    • Plastic bucket with tight lid
    • Disinfectant
    • Household chlorine bleach

Clothing and Bedding

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


    • Sturdy shoes or work boots*
    • Hat and gloves
    • Rain gear*
    • Thermal underwear
    • Blankets or sleeping bags*
    • Sunglasses

Special Items

Remember family members with special needs, such as infants and elderly or disabled persons.


    • 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
    • Entertainment--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)



  • Store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Keep items in air-tight plastic bags.
  • Change your stored water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
  • Rotate your stored food every six months.
  • Re-think your kit and family needs at least once a year. Replace batteries, update clothes, etc.
  • Ask your physician or pharmacist about storing prescription medications.


To get started...

Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and your local American Red Cross chapter.

    • Find out which disasters are most likely to happen in your community.
    • Ask how you would be warned.
    • Find out how to prepare for each.

Meet with your family.

    • Discuss the types of disasters that could occur.
    • Explain how to prepare and respond.
    • Discuss what to do if advised to evacuate.
    • Practice what you have discussed.

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


    • Pick two meeting places:

        1) a location a safe distance from your home in case of fire.
        2) a place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.

    • Choose an out-of-state friend as a "check-in contact" for everyone to call.

Complete these 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 monthly and change the batteries two times each year.
    • Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
    • Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information and training.

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.

Remember to practice and maintain your plan.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community and Family Preparedness Program and the American Red Cross Disaster Education Program are nationwide efforts to help people prepare for disasters of all types. For more information, please contact your local or State Office of Emergency Management, and your local American Red Cross chapter. Ask for "Your Family Disaster Plan" and the "Emergency Preparedness Checklist." Or write to: FEMA P.O. Box 70274 Washington, D.C. 20024 FEMA L- 189 ARC 4463


Updated: October 17, 1996

Emergency Food and Water Supplies

If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm or other disaster ever strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water and electricity for days, or even weeks. By taking a little time now to store emergency food and water supplies, you can provide for your entire family.

This brochure was developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Community and Family Preparedness Programs which provides information to help families prepare for all types of disasters.


Stocking water reserves and learning how to purify contaminated water should be among your top priorities in preparing for an emergency. You should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. Everyone's needs will differ, depending upon age, physical condition, activity, diet and climate. A normally active person needs to drink at least two quarts of water each day. Hot environments can double that amount. Children, nursing mothers and ill people will need more. You will need additional water for food preparation and hygiene. Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day.

If your supplies begin to run low, remember: Never ration water. Drink the amount you need today, and try to find more for tomorrow. You can minimize the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

How to Store Emergency Water Supplies

You can store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has held toxic substances, because tiny amounts may remain in the container's pores. Sound plastic containers, such as soft drink bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic buckets or drums.

Before storing your water, treat it with a preservative, such as chlorine bleach, to prevent the growth of microorganisms. Use liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite and no soap. Some containers warn, "Not For Personal Use." You can disregard these warnings if the label states sodium hypochlorite is the only active ingredient and if you use only the small quantities in these instructions.

Add four drops of bleach per quart of water (or two scant teaspoons per 10 gallons), and stir. Seal your water containers tightly, label them and store them in a cool, dark place.

Hidden Water Sources in Your Home

If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean water, you can use water in your hot-water tank, in your plumbing and in ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir tank of your toilet (not the bowl), but purify it first (described later).

Water beds hold up to 400 gallons, but some water beds contain toxic chemicals that are not fully removed by many purifiers. If you designate a water bed in your home as an emergency resource, drain it yearly and refill it with fresh water containing two ounces of bleach per 120 gallons.

To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by turning on the highest faucet in your house and draining the water from the lowest one.

To use the water in your hot-water tank, be sure the electricity or gas is off, and open the drain at the bottom of the tank. Start the water flowing by turning off the water intake valve and turning on a hot-water faucet. Do not turn on the gas or electricity when the tank is empty.

Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? You'll need to shut if off to stop contaminated water from entering your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines.

Emergency Outdoor Water Sources

If you need to seek water outside your home, you can use these sources. But purify the water before drinking it.


    • Rainwater
    • Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
    • Ponds and lakes
    • Natural springs

Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color. Use saltwater only if you distill it first (described later).

Three Easy Ways to Purify Water

In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, cholera, typhoid and hepatitis. You should therefore purify all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.

There are many ways to purify water. None are perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods. Before purifying, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

Three easy purification methods are outlined below. These measures will kill microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts, most other chemicals and radioactive fallout.

Boiling is the safest method of purifying water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 10 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.

Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring it back and forth between two containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.

Chlorination uses liquid chlorine bleach to kill microorganisms. (See page 1 for bleach safety information.) Add two drops of bleach per quart of water (four drops if the water is cloudy), stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not taste and smell of chlorine at that point, add another dose and let stand another 15 minutes.

If you do not have a dropper, use a spoon and a square-ended strip of paper or thin cloth about 1/4 inch by 2 inches. Put the strip in the spoon with an end hanging down about 1/2 inch below the scoop of the spoon. Place bleach in the spoon and carefully tip it. Drops the size of those from a medicine dropper will drip off the end of the strip.

Purification tablets release chlorine or iodine. They are inexpensive and available at most sporting goods stores and some drugstores. Follow the package directions. Usually one tablet is enough for one quart of water. Double the dose for cloudy water.

More Rigorous Purification Methods

While the three methods described above will remove only microbes from water, the following two purification methods will remove other contaminants. Distillation will remove microbes, heavy metals, salts, most other chemicals, and radioactive dust and dirt, called radioactive fallout. Filtering will also remove radioactive fallout. (Water itself cannot become radioactive, but it can be contaminated by radioactive fallout. It is unsafe to drink water that contains radioactive fallout.)

Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

To make a fallout filter, punch holes in the bottom of a large bucket, and put a layer of gravel in the bucket about 1-1/2 inches high. Cover the gravel with a towel cut in a circle slightly larger than the bucket. Cover soil with a towel, place the filter over a large container, and pour contaminated water through. Then, disinfect the filtered water using one of the methods described above. Change the soil in your filter after every 50 quarts of water.

Family Disaster Supply Kit

It's 2:00 a.m. and a flash flood forces you to evacuate your home--fast. There's no time to gather food from the kitchen, fill bottles with water, grab a first-aid kit from the closet and snatch a flashlight and a portable radio from the bedroom. You need to have these items packed and ready in one place before disaster hits.

Pack at least a three-day supply of food and water, and store it in a handy place. Choose foods that are easy to carry, nutritious and ready-to-eat. In addition, pack these emergency items:

    • Medical supplies and first aid manual
    • Hygiene supplies
    • Portable radio, flashlights and extra batteries
    • Shovel and other useful tools
    • Money and matches in a waterproof container
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Blanket and extra clothing
    • Infant and small children's needs (if appropriate)


If activity is reduced, healthy people can survive on half their usual food intake for an extended period and without any food for many days. Food, unlike water, may be rationed safely, except for children and pregnant women.

If your water supply is limited, try to avoid foods that are high in fat and protein, and don't stock salty foods, since they will make you thirsty. Try to eat salt-free crackers, whole grain cereals and canned foods with high liquid content.

You don't need to go out and buy unfamiliar foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned foods, dry mixes and other staples on your cupboard shelves. In fact, familiar foods are important. They can lift morale and give a feeling of security in time of stress. Also, canned foods won't require cooking, water or special preparation. Following are recommended short-term and long-term food storage plans.

Storage Tips


    • Keep food in the driest and coolest spot in the house--a dark area if possible.
    • Keep food covered at all times.
    • Open food boxes or cans carefully so that you can close them tightly after each use.
    • Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in tight containers.
    • Empty opened packages of sugar, dried fruits and nuts into screw-top jars or air-tight cans to protect them from pests.
    • Inspect all food containers for signs of spoilage before use.

Short-Term Food Supplies

Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, you should prepare a supply that will last that long. A two-week supply can relieve a great deal of inconvenience and uncertainty until services are restored.

The easiest way to develop a two-week stockpile is to increase the amount of basic foods you normally keep on your shelves. Remember to compensate for the amount you eat from other sources (such as restaurants) during an average two-week period.

You may already have a two-week supply of food on hand. Keeping it fresh is simple. Just rotate your supply once or twice a year.

Special Considerations to Keep in Mind

As you stock food, take into account your family's unique needs and tastes. Try to include foods that they will enjoy and that are also high in calories and nutrition. Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking are best.

Individuals with special diets and allergies will need particular attention, as will babies, toddlers and the elderly. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may be helpful for the ill or elderly.

Make sure you have a can opener and disposable utensils. And don't forget nonperishable foods for your pets.

How to Store Your Short-Term Stockpile

Keep canned foods in a dry place where the temperature is fairly cool--not above 70 degrees Fahrenheit and not below freezing. To protect boxed foods from pests and extend their shelf life, store the boxes in tightly closed cans or metal containers.

Rotate your food supply. Use foods before they go bad, and replace them with fresh supplies, dated with ink or marker. Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.

Your emergency food supply should be of the highest quality possible. Inspect your reserves periodically to make sure there are no broken seals or dented containers.

How to Cook if the Power Goes Out

For emergency cooking you can use a fireplace, or a charcoal grill or camp stove outdoors only. You can also heat food with candle warmers, chafing dishes and fondue pots. Canned food can be eaten right out of the can. If you heat it in the can, be sure to open the can and remove the label first.

Long-Term Food Supplies

In the unlikely event of a military attack or some other national disaster, you may need long-term emergency food supplies. The best approach is to store large amounts of staples along with a variety of canned and dried foods. Bulk quantities of wheat, corn, beans and salt are inexpensive and have nearly unlimited shelf life. If necessary, you could survive for years on small daily amounts of these staples. Stock the following amounts per person, per month: Wheat--20 pounds
Powdered Milk(for babies and infants)*-- 20 pounds
Corn--20 pounds
Iodized Salt--1 pound
Soybeans--10 pounds
Vitamin C**--15 grams

* Buy in nitrogen-packed cans
** Rotate every two years

Storage and Preparation of Food Supplies

Store wheat, corn and beans in sealed cans or plastic buckets. Buy powdered milk in nitrogen-packed cans. And leave salt and vitamin C in their original packages.

If these staples comprise your entire menu, you must eat all of them together to stay healthy. To avoid serious digestive problems, you'll need to grind the corn and wheat into flour and cook them, as well as boil the beans, before eating. Many health food stores sell hand-cranked grain mills or can tell you where you can get one. Make sure you buy one that can grind corn. If you are caught without a mill, you can grind your grain by filling a large can with whole grain one inch deep, holding the can on the ground between your feet and pounding the grain with a pipe.

Nutrition Tips


In a crisis, it will be vital that you maintain your strength. So remember:

    • Eat at least one well-balanced meal each day.
    • Drink enough liquid to enable your body to function properly (two quarts a day).
    • Take in enough calories to enable you to do any necessary work.
    • Include vitamin, mineral and protein supplements in your stockpile to assure adequate nutrition.

Shelf Life of Foods for Storage

Here are some general guidelines for rotating common emergency foods.


Use within six months:
Powdered milk (boxed)
Dried fruit (in metal container)
Dry, crisp crackers (in metal container)
Use within one year:
Canned condensed meat and vegetable soups
Canned fruits, fruit juices and vegetables
Ready-to-eat cereals and uncooked instant cereals (in metal containers)
Peanut butter
Hard candy, chocolate bars and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and conditions):
Vegetable oils
Baking powder
Instant coffee, tea
Vitamin C
and cocoa
Noncarbonated soft drinks
White rice
Bouillon products
Dry pasta
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)

Ways to Supplement Your Long-Term Stockpile

The above staples offer a limited menu, but you can supplement them with commercially packed air-dried or freeze-dried foods and supermarket goods. Rice, popcorn and varieties of beans are nutritious and long-lasting. The more supplements you include, the more expensive your stockpile will be.

Following is an easy approach to long-term food storage:


    1. Buy a supply of the bulk staples listed above.
    2. Build up your everyday stock of canned goods until you have a two-week to one-month surplus. Rotate it periodically to maintain a supply of common foods that will not require special preparation, water or cooking.
    3. From a sporting or camping equipment store, buy commercially packaged, freeze-dried or air-dried foods. Although costly, this will be your best form of stored meat, so buy accordingly.

If the Electricity Goes Off... FIRST, use perishable food and foods from the refrigerator.

THEN use the foods from the freezer. To minimize the number of times you open the freezer door, post a list of freezer contents on it. In a well-filled, well-insulated freezer, foods will usually still have ice crystals in their centers (meaning foods are safe to eat) for at least three days.

FINALLY, begin to use non-perishable foods and staples.

If you are interested in learning more about how to prepare for emergencies, contact your local or State Office of Emergency Management, or write to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, D.C. 20024, and ask for any of the following publications:

Emergency Preparedness Checklist (L-154) Item #8-0872

Are You Ready? Your Guide to Disaster Preparedness (H-34) Item #8-0908

Emergency Preparedness Publications (L-164) Item #8-0822

Your Family Disaster Plan (L-191) Item #8-0954

Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit (L-189) Item #8-0941

Special thanks to the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Red Cross for reviewing this publication.

FEMA-215 March 1992


Updated: October 17, 1996

Your Family Disaster Plan

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services--water, gas, electricity or telephones--were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.

Families can--and do--cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow the steps listed in this brochure to create your family's disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere--at work, at school or in the car.

How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?

4 Steps to Safety

1. Find Out What Could Happen to You

Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and American Red Cross chapter--be prepared to take notes:


    • Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.
    • Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.
    • Ask about animal care after disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters due to health regulations.
    • Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
    • Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare center and other places where your family spends time.


2. Create a Disaster Plan

Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.


    • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
    • Pick two places to meet:
      1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.

      2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.

    • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, its often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
    • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.


3. Complete This Checklist


    • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
    • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
    • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
    • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
    • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
    • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
    • Conduct a home hazard hunt.
    • Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
    • Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
    • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
    • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.


4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan


    • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
    • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
    • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
    • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
    • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.



Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers.



    • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
    • One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
    • A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
    • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
    • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
    • Sanitation supplies.
    • Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
    • An extra pair of glasses.
    • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.



Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.

Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.


Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.


During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.

Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.


Evacuate immediately if told to do so:


    • Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
    • Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
    • Take your family disaster supplies kit
    • Lock your home.
    • Use travel routes specified by local authorities--don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.


If you're sure you have time:


    • Shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
    • Post a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
    • Make arrangements for your pets.



If disaster strikes
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.

Check for injuries
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.

Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions

Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.

Check for damage in your home...

    • Use flashlights--do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
    • Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
    • Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
    • Shut off any other damaged utilities.
    • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.


Remember to...

    • Confine or secure your pets.
    • Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
    • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
    • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
    • Stay away from downed power lines.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Family Protection Program and the American Red Cross' Disaster Education Program are nationwide efforts to help citizens prepare for disasters of all types. For more information, please contact your local emergency management or civil defense office, and your local American Red Cross chapter. Start planning now.

Request free family protection publications by writing to: FEMA, P.O. Box 70274, Washington, D.C. 20024.

Ask for: Are You Ready?, "Your Family Disaster Supplies Kit" and "Emergency Food and Water Supplies."

Local sponsorship provided by:

FEMA L-191
ARC 4466
September 1991


Updated: February 20, 1997

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