Before an Emergency Strikes

Be Prepared Before an Emergency Occurs

It is necessary for you to learn about the things you can do to be prepared before an emergency occurs. Two actions that will help you do this are to develop an emergency plan, and Emergency Go Kit.

Create an Emergency Plan

In the Commonwealth we use the Emergency Alert System (EAS) during emergencies. When the decision is made to activate the EAS, original programming will be interrupted and an emergency message will be broadcast. It is important that you listen to instructions. Emergencies may strike when your family members are away from home, so find out about plans at your workplace, school, or anywhere you and your family spend time. After creating a household emergency plan, you should take time to review it with your family every six months. Steps to take in creating a household emergency plan include:

  1. Meet with household members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events, including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism.
  2. Discuss how you and your family will respond to each possible emergency.
  3. Discuss what to do in case of power outages or personal injuries.
  4. Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room.
  5. Teach adults how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
    • If you do turn off natural gas service to your home, call your gas provider to restore service. Do not attempt to restore gas service yourself.
  6. Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones, pre-program emergency numbers into phones with autodial capabilities.
  7. Teach children how and when to dial 911 to get emergency assistance.
  8. Teach children how to make long-distance telephone calls.
  9. Pick a friend or relative that all family members should call if separated. It is often easier to call out-of-state during an emergency than within the affected area.
  10. Instruct household members to turn to your local radio or television station for EAS information.
  11. Pick two meeting places:
    • A place near your home
    • A place outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home after an emergency
  12. Take a basic first aid and CPR class, contact the American Red Cross for more information.
  13. Keep family records in a watertight and fireproof safe. Inexpensive models can be purchased at most hardware stores.

If members of your household have disabilities or are elderly, find out what services may be available to aid in their care or evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Prepare an Emergency Go Kit

During an emergency, electricity, water, heat, air conditioning, or telephone service may not work. Preparing an Emergency Go Kit ahead of time can save precious time in the event you must evacuate. You should consider including the following items in an Emergency Go Kit:

  1. At least a 3 to 5 day supply of water (1 gallon per person per day). Store water in sealed, unbreakable containers. Replace every 6 months.
  2. A 3 to 5 day supply of non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener.
  3. A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes.
  4. Blankets, bedding, or sleeping bags.
  5. A first aid kit and prescription medications (be sure to check the expiration dates).
  6. An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses and solution (be sure to check the expiration dates).
  7. A list of family physicians, important medication information, and the style and serial number of medical devices, such as pacemakers.
  8. Special items for infants, the elderly, or family members with disabilities.
  9. A battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
  10. Identification, credit cards, cash, and photocopies of important family documents, including home insurance information.
  11. An extra set of car and house keys.
  12. Tools such as screwdrivers, cutters, and scissors; duct tape; waterproof matches; a fire extinguisher; flares; plastic storage containers; needle and thread; pen and paper; a compass; garbage bags; and regular household bleach.


In the event of an evacuation, make arrangements for pets in advance. Make sure you have the following:

  1. Identification collar and rabies tag
  2. Carrier or cage and leash
  3. Any medications (be sure to check expiration dates)
  4. Newspapers and plastic trash bags for handling waste
  5. Sufficient supply of food, water, and food bowls
  6. Veterinary records (most animal shelters do not allow pets without proof of vaccination)


Meet with your community members to plan how you could work together until help arrives. If you're a member of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, participate in emergency preparedness activities and planning for your community. Know your neighbors' special skills and consider how you could help those with disabilities and special needs.