Emergency Preparedness

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Be Informed

During emergencies information may be available from a number of sources. It is important to sign up for and be prepared to get information in several ways since not all methods are used for all emergencies, and power outages and other effects of the disaster may cause disruptions in how people get information.

Stay up to date with the latest forecast by visiting www.weather.gov

Make a Plan


Your family may not all be together when an emergency occurs, so you should Create a Family Communications Plan. In addition, Create a Plan to Shelter in Place,  and Create a Plan to Evacuate to keep you and your family safe whether you "stay" or "go".

Create a Family Communications Plan

Because your family may not all be together when an emergency occurs and because emergencies can disrupt normal communications due to power outages or infrastructure damage, it is important to plan how you will communicate in different situations.

  • Have two predetermined family meeting locations that the entire family knows. One can be right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire. The other can be outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
  • Download FEMA's Family Emergency Plan (FEP) links to PDF file and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends. The second page has emergency contact cards which should be completed for each family member. Adults can keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or briefcase, etc. while children can put the cards in their backpacks or book bags.
  • Identify an out-of-state contact for household members to notify that they are safe. The out-of-town contact, if unaffected by the emergency, may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number of the emergency contact and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. In addition, program other "ICE" contacts in your cellphone as contacts during an emergency. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel may check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Inform your ICE contacts that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or special needs you may have.
  • Teach family members how to use text messaging if they don't text regularly. Text messages can often work even when there is network disruptions or congestion when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  • If you have internet after a disaster (either on a computer or your cellphone), consider using social media to let friends and family know that you are safe and where you are.
  • Considering using the free American Red Cross "Safe and Well" service at www.safeandwell.org or 1-800-RED-CROSS. The services can be used both to register yourself as "Safe and Well" or to search for loved ones after a disaster.
Create a Plan to Shelter in Place

During some emergencies there may be situations when it's best to stay where you are and avoid any uncertainty outside. Shelter-in-Place is a standard protective action utilized in Emergency Management. It is most often used during an event in which hazardous materials have been accidentally released into the atmosphere, but also during other dangerous conditions, such as hurricanes, flooding, blizzards, or law enforcement activity when it’s safest to remain indoors. As part of your emergency plan, consider what you would need or would need to do in advance of sheltering in place. This includes building an https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/ preparing your home for emergencies, and learning how to shut off any systems that involve air handling in case you are asked to turn them off.

Create a Plan to Evacuate

Some emergencies and disasters may require evacuation. Evacuations may be for an event like a hurricane where there is time to get ready, or may be for an incident such as a hazards materials spill, a major fire, or other emergencies that may require evacuation with no notice. Since evacuations often have short or no notice, planning ahead is essential.

As part of your family emergency plan, consider what you would do if you were asked to evacuate:

  • Where would you go? Would you stay with family and friends and if so, who? Or would you go to a hotel or local emergency shelter?
  • How will you evacuate? Do you have your own car that you would take? If your car was damaged or inaccessible, how would you travel? If you don't have a car, how would you evacuate? Make sure you know at least two routes to your destination in case of impassible roads or traffic.
  • What will you bring? Considering bringing your "go bag" of key items that is part of your https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/ . See https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/flood/ webpage for list of what you might bring. Make sure to include any items specific to your family needs (medicines, medical equipment, assistive devices, baby supplies, etc.)
  • What will you do with your pets? While service animals will be allowed inside shelters household pets are not allowed in all shelters. Consider additional options for your pet, such as staying with relatives or friends, a kennel, or pet friendly hotels. Have pet supplies, medicines, carriers and tags for your pet.
  • When will you evacuate? For events that have warning, like hurricanes, make a plan of when you might evacuate. Don't wait until the last minute when conditions outside might be dangerous.
  • See https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/emergency/ and https://www.health.ny.gov/publications/7064.pdf webpage for more information.

Ensure that all your planning considers the needs of specific family members such as children, pets, senior citizens and those with access and functional needs. Everyone's family emergency plan is slightly different because of each family's different needs, so make sure your plan suits your family!

You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.

Build an Home/Office Emergency Kit

Every home and business should have a stocked basic emergency supply kit that could be used for any emergency, regardless of the time of year. Everyone should keep certain items around the house and workplace in the event you are isolated for three to five days without power or unable to go to a store. While some items, such as bottled water, food, flashlight, radio and extra batteries, a first aid kit, sanitation items and clothing should be in everyone’s kit, it is important to customize the kit for the needs of you and your family.  Consider adding medications, extra eyeglasses, contact lenses, dentures, extra batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairs, or other medical equipment, oxygen tanks, children’s items, food & supplies for pets and service animals and any other items your family might need. A list of allergies, medications and dosages, medical insurance information, medical records and serial numbers of medical devices will provide additional information during an emergency.

You may also consider making a mobile “go-bag” version of your emergency kit in case you need to evacuate to a shelter or other location, as an emergency shelter may not have all the items you need. At least annually, check your kit for any food, water, batteries, or other items that may need to be replaced or have expired.

  • Bottled water (1 gallon per person/per day for 3 days)
  • Canned goods and nonperishable foods, particularly those that do not need cooking:
    • Canned meats and fish
    • Canned fruits and vegetables
    • Canned soups and puddings
    • Canned fruit juices
    • Dried fruit and nuts
    • Bread, cookies and crackers
    • Peanut butter and jelly
    • Coffee and tea
  • Manual can opener
  • Radio (battery-powered or hand crank), NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlight or lantern, with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Diapers, wipes, baby food, formula, if needed
  • Pet food, supplies, tag, crates, if needed
  • Prescription medications (2-week supply)
  • Extra eyeglasses, contact lenses, and dentures
  • Extra batteries for hearing aids, wheelchairs, or other medical equipment,
  • Medical oxygen tanks
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, soap, sanitizer, and other personal hygiene items
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Watch or battery operated clock
  • Copies of important documents and IDs
  • Cell phone and charger (also an auto, solar, or crank charger in case power is out)
  • Cash
  • Water purification tablets and household chlorine bleach
  • Camp stove or grill (outdoor use only) with fuel or Sterno and waterproof matches or lighter
  • Change of clothes and sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • Disposable plates, cups, and utensils
  • Seasonal items such as warm clothes, hat and gloves for winter and sunscreen for summer
  • Books, games, puzzles and other comfort items
  • Duct tape
  • Your Vehicle Emergency Kit Should Include:

    • Flashlight with extra batteries
    • Charged cellphone and automobile charger
    • Basic first aid kit
    • Necessary medications
    • Pocket knife
    • Blankets or sleeping bags
    • Extra clothes (including rain gear, boots, mittens, socks)
    • High-calorie non-perishable foods (dried fruits, nuts, canned food)
    • Manual can opener
    • Container of water
    • Windshield scraper and brush
    • Fire extinguisher
    • Shovel
    • Sand, road salt, or cat litter for traction
    • Tire chains or traction mats
    • Basic tool kit (pliers, wrench, screwdriver)
    • Tow rope
    • Battery jumper cables
    • Road flares/reflectors
    • Brightly colored cloth to use as a flag
    • Road maps