Be Safe. Be Prepared.

Preparing for an emergency is the best way to help yourself and your loved ones, including your pets. The tips below will help you prepare for an emergency. Download and print this list of important numbers and places to find emergency information then add it to your emergency kit.

Make an Emergency Kit

Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food, and clean air.

Consider Two Kits.  Fill the first one with items you will need if you are able to remain where you are, but must manage on your own. The second kit should be a lightweight, smaller version of the first kit in case you must leave. Items your kits should include are listed on this checklist.

Include Emergency Documents.  Include copies of important documents in your emergency kits such as family records, medical records, wills, deeds, social security numbers, credit and bank account information, a copy of your driver’s license and tax records. It is best to keep these documents in a waterproof container. If there is any information related to operating equipment or life-saving devices that you rely on, include those in your kit as well and make sure that a trusted friend or family member has a copy of the documents. Include the names and numbers of everyone in your personal support network, as well as your medical providers. If you have a communication disability, make sure your emergency information list includes the best way to communicate with you. Be sure you have cash or travelers checks in your kits in case you need to purchase supplies.

Wildfires, explosions, chemical spills, terrorist attacks, or other unexpected events can result in “dirty” air. You can help protect yourself from airborne contamination by creating a filter mask between yourself and any microscopic particles that could be in the air. It is very important that the mask or other material fits your face snugly so that most of the air you breathe comes through the mask, not around it. You will need to make adjustments to find the best fit for young children.

Make a Plan

Plan in advance, use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Develop a Family Communications Plan. Your family may not be together when an emergency arises, so it’s a good idea to plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Consider a plan where each family member calls or emails the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. In some cases, it may be easier to make a long distance call than to call locally, so an out-of-town contact could be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Be sure each person knows the phone number and has access to a cell phone.

Your first important decision is whether to stay put or get away. You should plan for both possibilities. Television, a battery-operated radio, and emergency web sites will be important sources of information as it becomes available.

Create a Plan to Shelter in Place.  There are circumstances when staying in your home is the best option. Staying in your home or “sheltering-in-place” is the appropriate action to take if you see large amounts of debris in the air, or local authorities say the air is badly contaminated. As part of your emergency planning, you should determine which room in your home you can most easily seal off from outside contamination and that will provide you with access to necessities.

If you shelter-in-place, quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors, and close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers. Immediately turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal all windows, doors, and vents. Watch TV, listen to the radio, or check the internet for instructions.

Create a Plan to Get Away.  Plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. If you have a car, keep it filled with at least a half tank of gas at all times. Become familiar with alternate routes out of the area. Take your emergency supply kit and lock your doors behind you. Take pets with you if you are told to evacuate. If you believe the air may be contaminated, drive with your windows and vents closed and keep the air conditioning and heater turned off. Listen to the radio for instructions.

Know Emergency Plans at School and Work.  Think about the places where your family spends time. Talk to your children’s schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency. If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan. Review and practice it with your employees.

Older and Special Needs Individuals

If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have what you need for at least a week. You should also keep a copy of your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information. If it is not possible to have a week-long supply of medicines and supplies, keep as much as possible on hand and talk to your pharmacist or doctor about what else you should do to prepare.


If you undergo routine treatments administered by a clinic or hospital, or if you receive regular services such as home health care, treatment, or transportation, talk to your service provider about their emergency plans. Work with them to identify back-up service providers in your area and the areas you might go to if evacuated. If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity to operate, talk to your health care provider about what you can do to prepare for an outage.

Pet Owners

If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets. Make sure you have a sturdy crate or pet carrier available for transporting and/or sheltering your pet. Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends, and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.

Medicines and Medical Records. Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes on a regular basis in a waterproof container. Add a copy of your pet's medical records to your Emergency Kit.

Collar with I.D. Tag, Harness, or Leash.  Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar, and ID tag in your pet’s emergency supply kit. In addition, place copies of your pet’s vet records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container and add them to your kit. Also, include a picture of you and your pet together as this can help document ownership if you and your pet are separated.

Sanitation.  Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet’s sanitation needs as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach).