Preparing for an Emergency


Know Your Community

After you prepare, look outside your home to the community at large. Find out what types of disasters are most likely, what hazards exist and what risks you are facing. To find out about hazards in your local area, go to

In addition to hazards, know your community response plans and what transportation will be available in the event of a disaster. Also, learn how local authorities will warn you of possible disaster and how they will supply information during and after the disaster.

Find out about special assistance programs that may be offered in your area. Register with any you may need, including your local power company.

If you need help creating your plan, contact your local chapter of the American Red Cross.

Have a Plan

It is not possible to plan for every possible event. Once you have created your primary plan, have an alternate prepared in order to ensure your safety.

  1. Review your plan with your family members.
  2. Agree on a meeting place.
  3. Create a communications plan, which will include all phone numbers for family members, your support network, your out-of-town contacts, caregivers, and places you frequent such as work or school.
  4. Know the best escape routes and places of safety. Assess these locations both inside and outside of your home.
  5. Make a plan for your pets and service animals. If you need to keep your service animal with you, determine which places are animal friendly before-hand and make a list that includes these places as well as others who may be able to care for your pet in case you are unable to (i.e. friends, family members, local veterinarians, etc.).

If Disaster Strikes

If you are instructed to take shelter immediately, do so. If you are instructed to evacuate, try to make your first option staying with family or friends, as they know you and your needs best and may best be able to accommodate you. Emergency public shelters can be your next option as a source of shelter and food, but not personal health care. If you have a caregiver and have to go to shelter, it will be best to bring the caregiver with you.

In addition:

  • Listen to the radio or television for the location of emergency shelters. Note those that are accessible to those with physical disabilities and those that have other disability friendly assistance features such as TTY lines.
  • Shut off water, gas and electricity if instructed to do so and if time permits.
  • Wear appropriate clothing and sturdy shoes.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit and diabetes supplies.
  • Lock your home.
  • Use travel routes specified by local authorities and don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
  • When you arrive at the emergency shelter, verify that it can meet your special care needs.
  • Inform family and friends of your location and status.

Adapted from the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


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Last Modified Date: May 08, 2013

All content on is created and reviewed in compliance with our editorial policy.

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by Brenda Bell
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