Emergency Preparedness

How prepared are you?

Use this list to evaluate you preparedness. Think about other needs you may have.

Find and fix hazards.

  • Secure bookcases, water heaters, oxygen tanks, etc., to wall studs.
  • Hang pictures, mirrors and plants away from beds and couches.
  • Install latches on cabinets and drawers to keep contents from spilling.

Plan how to stay informed.

  • Have a battery-powered radio. A TV with a battery option (with captioning features, if needed) is also useful. Be sure to have extra batteries.
  • Arrange for someone to keep you informed if you have trouble hearing.

Get emergency supplies.

Store enough to last at least 3 days. Start with these basics:

  • Water (1 gallon per person, per day)
  • Food that won’t spoil and a manual (non-electric) can opener that you are able to use
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Medications and medical supplies
  • First-aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Ask equipment suppliers about alternate power supplies for electrical medical equipment.

Be ready to evacuate.

Before an emergency strikes:

  • Pack a bag of essentials. Include a blanket.
  • Label medical equipment, supplies and medications you’ll need to bring.
  • Arrange for transportation.
  • Pick a meeting place or a friend to call incase family members aren’t together when an emergency strikes.
  • Make safety arrangements for pets.


Fire safety is a must!


Install and test smoke detectors.

  • Install at least one on each floor, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Test monthly. If needed, install detectors that flash lights or give some other signal that doesn’t involve sound.

Plan your escape.

  • Plan two ways out of every room and out of your building. Remember, you cannot use elevators in a fire.
  • Install ramps, alter windows and make any other needed changes to make escape easier. Doors and windows with security bars must have quick-release devices.
  • Practice both escape plans regularly. But do not take unnecessary chances when practicing.

If you smell smoke or an alarm goes off:

  • Turn off any oxygen equipment immediately if there is a fire.
  • Try to get out right away.
  • Stay calm. Follow your escape plan.
  • Feel doors with the back of your hand. If they feel warm or if smoke is seeping in, don’t open them. Use your second way out.
  • If you’re caught in smoke, stay low. Crawl close to the floor.
  • Keep doors closed if you cannot get out.
  • Stuff cloth around doors and cover vents to keep smoke out.
  • Phone the fire department. Say where you are in the building.
  • Signal for help. But open windows only if no smoke comes in.
  • Stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire.
  • Roll on the floor until flames go out. Cover your face with your hands
  • If you can’t roll, smother the flames with a blanket, towel or coat.
  • Don’t run.


Stay safe in storms.

Listen for local alerts and instructions and remember these general tips:


  • Stay inside, away from windows.
  • Stay away from water and faucets.
  • Use the phone only for emergencies. (Cordless and cell phones are OK to use.)
  • If you’re caught outside, try to go to a low spot. Get away from tall trees, open fields, metal objects and water. Crouch low to the ground but don’t lie down.


  • Go to the basement right away.
  • If you can’t get to a basement, go to the lowest floor possible. Stay in a hallway or small room (like a closet or bathroom) in the center of the building.
  • If you live in a mobile (manufactured) home, go to a sturdy building nearby. If that’s not possible, go outside. Lie flat in a ditch or low area. Cover your head with your arms.


  • Learn safe routes to higher ground ahead of time.
  • Move to high ground immediately if there is a “flash flood warning.” Do the same if you suspect flooding has started.


Heat waves and cold snaps can be deadly.

Ask family and friends to check on you often

In hot weather:

Stay cool.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Don’t drink alcohol or caffeine.
  • Wear cool light colored clothes, even if you don’t feel hot.
  • Cover sunny windows with drapes and awnings.
  • Use air conditioning, if possible.
Watch for heat exhaustion.

This means your body is overheating. Signs may include:

  • Cold, clammy skin
  • Heavy sweating
  • Nausea
  • Weakness
  • What to do: lie down, drink water, and sponge off with a cool wet, cloth.
Get immediate medical help for heat stroke.

This is the most serious heat-related illness. Signs may include:

  • Hot, dry skin
  • Fast, strong pulse
  • Confusion
  • Body temperature above 103°F
  • What to do: Dial 9-1-1 or your local number for Emergency Medical Services. Delay can be deadly!

In cold weather:

Stay warm.
  • Keep your home well heated. Dress warmly even if you don’t feel cold.
  • Eat regularly and drink plenty of fluids.
  • Avoid drinking alcohol and caffeine. It will make you lose heat faster.
Watch for a drop in body temperature.

A temperature below 95°F is dangerous. Other danger signs may include:

  • Confusion or sleepiness
  • Slurred speech
  • Stiffness in arms or legs
  • Severe shivering
  • Get immediate medical help if you have any of these signs. Delay can be deadly!
Re-warm the body.

While waiting for medical help, others should:

  • Wrap you in blankets
  • Lie close to you so their body heat can warm you
  • Avoid rubbing your skin
  • Not give you caffeine of alcohol


After an emergency:

Check for injuries.

  • Don’t move if you’re seriously injured (unless you’re in danger of further injury).
  • Signal and wait for medical help.

Be aware of hidden damage.

  • Use a flashlight – not a candle or other flame – to check for damage.
  • Check electric wires and gas, water and sewage lines. Don’t use them if you suspect damage. (If you turned off the gas, be sure to have a professional turn it back on.)
  • Follow advisories for boiling tap water before you use it.
  • Don’t go into a building if it might be damaged. Ask an official for help.

Use the phone for emergencies only.

  • Help keep phone lines and cell phone networks open for people who need emergency help.

Keep listening for instructions.

  • Officials may tell you to avoid certain roads or take other precautions.
  • If you had to evacuate, officials will tell you when it is safe to go home.


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