Citizen's Emergency Guide

Preparing for an Emergency

Buck County Emergency Management wants to assist you prepare for an emergency affecting the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

  • Learn what to do before, during, and after an emergency
  • Create a family emergency plan
  • Prepare an Emergency-Go-Kit
  • Review the types of disasters to be better prepared

Protective Actions

Protective actions are steps we take to protect our family members and ourselves from harm. The two most common forms of emergency protective actions are shelter-in-place and evacuation. During and after an event, stay tuned to your local emergency radio or television station or listen to emergency personnel to know which protective action you should use.


Shelter-in-place involves simply staying in your house or inside any other location. In the event of an emergency such as the release of a hazardous material, it is not always recommended to immediately evacuate. Leaving your house might expose you to harmful agents that have been dispersed into the air.

If Your Power Goes Out

  • Assist family members or neighbors who may be vulnerable if exposed to extreme heat or cold.
  • Locate a flashlight with batteries to use until power comes back on. Do not use candles - this can cause a fire.
  • Turn off sensitive electric equipment, such as computers, VCRs, and televisions.
  • Turn off major electric appliances that were on when the power went off. This will help to prevent power surges when electricity is restored.
  • Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors closed as much as possible to keep cold in and heat out.
  • Do not use the stove to heat your home, this can cause a fire or fatal gas leak.
  • Use extreme caution when driving. If traffic signals are out, treat each signal as a stop sign - come to a complete stop at every intersection and look before you proceed.
  • Do not call 9-1-1 to ask about the power outage. Listen to the local radio stations for updates.

If You Need Clean Water

Flooding can cause contamination of water supplies. Contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid, and hepatitis. If you think your water may be contaminated, you should purify it before using it. This includes water used for drinking, cooking, cleaning dishes or bathing. The best way to purify water is to boil it. Bring water to a boil for 3 to 5 minutes, and then allow to cool before drinking. Pouring water back and forth between two containers will improve the taste by putting oxygen back into the water.

Emergency Food Supplies

It is possible for a healthy person to survive on half of their usual food intake for an extended period. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while stocking your emergency kit:

  • Foods that require no refrigeration, preparation, or cooking are the best
  • Individuals with special diets or allergies will need to be considered as well as toddlers and the elderly
  • Make sure you have a manual can opener and disposable utensils in your emergency food supply
  • Use canned foods, dry mixes, and other staples you use everyday