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Public Health Preparedness

Personal Preparedness

Preparing Your Family

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has three simple steps that will help you and your family prepare for any emergency. With an all-hazards approach to planning, your family can have a plan and emergency supply kit that can help you when any disaster strikes. has many resources to help you to be informed, make a plan, and build a kit. In addition the American Red Cross has a “Be Red Cross Ready” checklist available for download (pdf).

Be Informed

Know what to do before, during, and after an emergency. It is important to be informed about different types of emergencies so that when disaster strikes you know the appropriate action to take. Many responses for emergencies are similar, but knowing how to quickly identify an emergency situation and the appropriate response is crucial. Learning what to do in different situations and developing and customizing your plans for your local hazards, the locations frequented by members of your household and the specific needs of household members, including animals, will help you reduce the impact of disasters and may save lives and prevent injuries.

Make A Plan

Prepare, plan and stay informed for emergencies. It is important to understand the risks that your family faces, so that you know what planning needs to take place. You will need to develop an evacuation and shelter-in-place plan as well as a communication plan. There are many resources that can help you to determine the risks that you and your family may face. Use the navigation links to the left or for more information regarding threats you may face.

Build A Kit

Build a kit for disasters to be prepared. Since you may have to survive on your own during and after an emergency, it will be necessary to have some supplies on hand. An emergency kit is simply all of the items you will need to carry out vital functions in the hours after an incident. This means you will need food, water, medicines and other supplies for at least 72 hours. Since you may need the kit at a moment’s notice, assemble your kit and keep it up to date. Making Your Emergency Survival Supply Kit

Preparing your Pet

In the event of a disaster you may be required to shelter-in-place or evacuate. During this period don’t forget to plan for your furry family members as they will rely on you for food, water, and shelter. Make sure to have a minimum of a 7 day supply of food and water for your pet. If you need to evacuate make arrangements to kennel or take your pet with you. Locate pet-friendly establishments that are along your evacuation route. Keep in mind that your usual kennel may be within the evacuation zone, so you may need an alternate place that is further from home. More information can be found at Hurricane Preparedness: Making Plans for your pets.


In the event of a disaster you may be required to evacuate. Prepare now so you and your family are ready. There are many types of events for which evacuations may occur such as fires, floods, hurricanes and other disasters. You may have very little time to evacuate, or in the case of a hurricane you could have one to two days to prepare for evacuation. In either case having an evacuation plan in place will help you and your family to evacuate with as little stress as possible. Be sure to take your Emergency Kit that you have prepared in advance when you evacuate. Be sure to know which route you will take with at least one alternate route. It is important to follow local official’s instructions if the route is specified in a mandatory evacuation. If you are required to leave your home and need a place to go, a shelter may be available.


If there is an emergency, you might need to stay inside your home for a few hours or a few days. This is known as “sheltering-in-place.” You will not be able to leave to go to the store, out to a restaurant, church or other destination. Sheltering in place typically means staying in your home or workplace, but it could also require you to take shelter in the nearest building. It may be necessary to limit your contact with outside air that may be contaminated with harmful agents or chemicals. The best place to shelter is inside a small, interior room with few or no windows. Sheltering-in-place is intended to keep you safe for a short time until it is either safe to go outside or you are taken somewhere else by rescue workers. Listen to local news and safety officials for instructions.

If you are told to shelter-in-place, you could be instructed to:

  • Take your children and pets indoors right away. Do not attempt to get children from school, they will be sheltered.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with your sleeve or a cloth until you can get inside.
  • Close all windows and doors in your home.
  • If instructed to do so, tape plastic garbage bags or plastic sheeting over windows.
  • Tape around windows and doors to make an unbroken seal. Use duct tape to cover any exhaust fans, vents, electrical outlets or other openings.
  • Turn off heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems until you are instructed that it is safe to resume their use.
  • Close your fireplace and any other place air can come in from outside.
  • Go to the room that you’ve picked ahead of time as your shelter room.
  • Take your disaster supplies kit with you.
  • Close window shades, blinds, or curtains if you’re told there might be an explosion. Stay away from windows.
  • Stay in the room and listen to your radio or watch your local news until you are told it is safe to come out or if you have to evacuate.
  • Take special precautions when using water from the tap. Listen for instructions to determine if water is safe to drink and if it is safe to use the toilet and other facilities.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency workers to find the nearest shelter if you are away from your home during the emergency.
  • Listen to local radio and TV stations to receive specific instructions.

More information can be found at the CDC, American Red Cross and FEMA websites.

For additional information, contact:  (803) 898-3708