Are you prepared
for an emergency?
your Family for Disasters
Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in
advance and working together as a team. Create a family disaster
plan including a communication plan, disaster supplies kit and
an evacuation plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection
AND your responsibility.
Find out what could happen to you
Make a disaster plan
Complete the checklist
Practice your plan
Date: 09/12/05 Source:
Find out what could happen to you
Contact your American Red Cross chapter or local emergency
management or civil defense office 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 communitys 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 childrens school or daycare center and other places where
your family spends time.
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 cant return home. Everyone must know the address and
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 contacts phone number.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of
Complete this checklist
Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police,
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 its kept.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially
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.
Practice your plan
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at
least once a year.
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
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to
Prepare for Disasters Before they Strike: Build A Disaster
There are six basics you should stock for your home in the case
of an emergency: water, food, first aid supplies, clothing
and bedding, tools and emergency supplies, and special items for
Keep the items that you would most likely need during an
evacuation in an easy-to carry container.
www.redcross.org for a comprehensive list of what should be
included in your kit. Possible containers include a large,
covered trash container, a camping backpack or a duffle bag.
Food and Water in an Emergency (A5055) (FEMA 477)
If an earthquake, hurricane, winter storm or other disaster
strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water
and electricity for days, or even weeks. By taking some 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 in cooperation with the American Red
Cross and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an
emergency. 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 even
more. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene.
Store a total of at least one gallon per person, per day. You
should store at least a two-week supply of water for each member
of your family.
If supplies run low, 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
How to Store Water
Store your water in thoroughly washed plastic, glass, fiberglass
or enamel-lined metal containers. Never use a container that has
held toxic substances. Plastic containers, such as soft drink
bottles, are best. You can also purchase food-grade plastic
buckets or drums.
Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool,
dark place. Rotate water every six months.
Emergency Outdoor Water Sources
If you need to find water outside your home, you can use these
sources. Be sure to treat the water according to the
instructions on page 3 before drinking it.
Streams, rivers and other moving bodies of water
Ponds and lakes
Avoid water with floating material, an odor or dark color.
Use saltwater only if you distill it first. You should not drink
Hidden Water Sources in Your Home
If a disaster catches you without a stored supply of clean
water, you can use the water in your hot-water tank, pipes and
ice cubes. As a last resort, you can use water in the reservoir
tank of your toilet (not the bowl).
Do you know the location of your incoming water valve? You'll
need to shut it off to stop contaminated water from entering
your home if you hear reports of broken water or sewage lines.
To use the water in your pipes, let air into the plumbing by
turning on the faucet in your house at the highest level. A
small amount of water will trickle out. Then obtain water from
the lowest faucet in the house.
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.
Three Ways to Treat Water
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water
can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as
dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. You should treat all water of
uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation
There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often
the best solution is a combination of methods.
Two easy treatment methods are outlined below. These measures
will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminants
such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Before
treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or
strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.
Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of treating
water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in
mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it
by pouring the water back and forth between two clean
containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.
Disinfection: You can use household liquid bleach to
kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach
that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use
scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added
Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let
stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach
odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.
The only agent used to treat water should be household liquid
bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment
products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain
5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient,
are not recommended and should not be used.
While the two methods described above will kill most microbes
in water, distillation will remove microbes that resist these
methods, and heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.
Distillation: 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.
When Food Supplies Are Low
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 food storage plans.
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 elderly
people. Nursing mothers may need liquid formula, in case they
are unable to nurse. Canned dietetic foods, juices and soups may
be helpful for ill or elderly people.
Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable
utensils. And don't forget nonperishable foods for your pets.
Food Storage Tips
Keep food in a dry, cool spot - a dark area if possible.
Keep food covered at all times.
Open food boxes or cans care-fully so that you can close them
tightly after each use.
Wrap cookies and crackers in plastic bags, and keep them in
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 for signs of spoilage before use.
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.
During and right after a disaster, 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
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
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
Hard candy and canned nuts
May be stored indefinitely (in proper containers and
Instant coffee, tea and cocoa
Noncarbonated soft drinks
Powdered milk (in nitrogen-packed cans)