Why You Should Prepare for a Disaster

Disaster can strike without warning, forcing you to go for days without basic necessities or to evacuate your home. Relief workers will be on the scene following a disaster, but may not be able to reach you immediately.

You need to be prepared. Knowing the steps to take during a disaster - weather, flooding, tornadoes, or other crisis - can greatly reduce the danger and distress your family may face. Being prepared can help you stay calm during a crisis and also recover afterward.

Creating a Basic Emergency Plan

Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take in disaster preparedness. Knowing what to do and how to do it can help your family manage disasters with less worry, fear, and uncertainty.
  • Check that your insurance policies are up-to-date and provide good coverage.
  • Choose a place away from your neighborhood where family members can meet in case you are separated and cannot return home due to a disaster.
  • Decide what you and your family would do in each potential emergency situation.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home showing escape routes.
  • Identify a friend or relative who lives out of the area for family members to contact if you are separated.
  • Know how to shut off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches and valves in your home.
  • Plan how to help elderly or disabled neighbors in a disaster.
  • Post emergency numbers by every phone and teach children how and when to dial 911.

Preparing a Disaster Supply Kit

Having a disaster supply kit ready to take with you at a moment's notice ensures that you will have necessary supplies no matter how fast you may need to evacuate. Pack supplies in a duffel bag or backpack and keep it in a designated place. Your kit will also come in handy if you must take shelter in your home. This list will help ensure that your disaster supply kit includes all the essentials.


  • Pack at least 1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days.
  • Store water in tightly sealed, non breakable plastic, fiberglass, or enamel-lined metal containers.
  • Change your water every 6 months.


  • Include canned and boxed foods because they require little preparation and stay good for longer periods of time. Remember to bring a manual can opener or to buy food in self-opening cans.
  • Include goods for infants and family members with special diets.
  • Pack enough food to last each family member at least 3 days.
  • Pack foods in sealed metal or plastic containers.
  • Replace foods every 6 months.

Tools and Equipment

  • Battery-powered radio
  • Blankets of sleeping bags for each person
  • Change of clothing and an extra pair of shoes and socks for each person
  • Flashlights
  • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags
  • Paper cups and plates and plastic utensils
  • Resealable plastic bags
  • Spare batteries
  • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and other toiletries
  • Washcloths and towels

Personal Items

  • Copies of birth and marriage certificates, inventory of household goods, bank account numbers, and other important documents
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Maps
  • Personal identification
  • Prescription Medications

First Aid Kit Essentials

  • Adhesive bandages
  • Antacid
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Anti diarrhea medication
  • Antiseptic
  • Aspirin and non aspirin pain reliever
  • Cleaning agents (isopropyl alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, soap, germicide)
  • Cotton balls
  • First aid manual
  • Gauze pads and roll
  • Latex gloves
  • Laxatives
  • Moist towelettes
  • Needle and safety pins
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Scissors
  • Sunscreen
  • Thermometer
  • Tongue depressors
  • Triangular bandages
  • Tweezers

Determine Your Flood Risk

Determine your flood risk from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Is your property in a high risk or moderate to low risk area? Knowing your flood profile will help you understand your risk of financial loss. Find out your relative flood risk right now online at the NFIPs, Assess Your Risk page. Simply enter your property address to see your relative risk, find links to flood maps, and other flood insurance community resources.

Flood maps determine your level of risk. You can also view current flood maps at the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Map Store. FEMA is also undertaking a nationwide effort to produce new digitized flood maps for hundreds of communities over the next 5 years. These new maps will reflect changes in floodplains caused by new development and natural forces.