Preparing for Disasters
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. Individuals and families can - and do - cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. The following resources may help you in preparation for an emergency.
Create a Disaster Plan
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
- Pick two places to meet. One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. The other, is outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Remain aware of your location - this includes familiar landmarks and crossing streets.
- Develop a communication plan by writing down emergency contact information & have extra electronic device chargers on hand. Need ideas on how to list contact information? Check out this Emergency Information Worksheet.
- Arrange for an out-of-state friend or family member contact. After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distances. Texts are more likely to go through. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
- Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
Build A Kit
Additional items to consider:
- Personal items: toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, glasses, feminine supplies, infant supplies.
- Tools and supplies: pliers, compass, aluminum foil, flares, wrench to shut off utilities, matches, pencil and paper, whistle, shelter tarps, dust mask, and work gloves, plastic garbage bags and ties.
- Include bedding and at least one complete change of clothes and footwear for all household members.
- Keep important family documents in a waterproof container in your home and keep copies in your disaster kit: Wills, insurance policies, bank account numbers, passports, social security cards, immunization records, credit card numbers, phone numbers, and birth/marriage/death certificates.
- Keep a 14-day supply of vital medications on hand at all times. Remember to plan for power-dependent medical equipment.
- Rotate the food supply every six months.
- Extra food, drinking water, supplies, and medicines for your pets.
- Maintain and know how to use a fire extinguisher.
- Learn how to build a kit on a budget.
- To learn more about NOAA Weather Radios, visit:
Know How and Where to Turn Off Utilities
Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Learn more about this on the EMD YouTube channel. Factor in newer concepts such as electric vehicle safety. Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
Inspect Your Home for Potential Hazards
During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.
During disaster response, affected communities depend heavily on local and national volunteer organizations to provide trained volunteers and much-needed donated supplies. Get involved today by donating or volunteering with a reputable organization. Consider forming a neighborhood group, attend free disaster skills workshops, and discuss how you'll help people and pets who normally rely on you.
Preparedness Checklists & Information Sheets
Individuals with Access & Functional Needs
- Active Shooter Awareness for Access and Function Needs Populations
- Diabetic Patient Preparedness Plan
- Emergency Power Planning for People Who Use Electricity and Battery-Dependent Assistive Technology and Medical Devices
- Emergeny Evacuation Preparedness Taking Responsibility for Your Safety
- Fire Safety and Disabilities flyer
- Medical Wallet Card
- Preparedness Workbook from The Independence Center
- Preparing Makese Sense for People with Access and Functional Needs
Kids & Teens
Pets and Animals
After a Flood - Safety & Cleanup
Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
Disaster Preparedness in American Sign Language (ASL)
Multilingual Preparedness Videos
Puget Sound Energy - Downed Power Line