• Don’t wait for an emergency to start planning. Plan well in advance so you are prepared. Learn about the natural disasters that could potentially impact your area, and learn what to realistically expect with each.
     + Working with Local Emergency Responders
    • Before an incident happens, ask local responders what residents can expect to happen.
    • Learn how your local emergency responders will communicate with residents during an emergency.
    • Find out if there is a local notification system for your community, and if you need to pre-register for a notification service.
    • Learn if there is a local emergency management social media page that should be followed for timely updates.
    • Follow directions and guidance from your local emergency responders when the time comes.  Heed their warnings.
     + General Planning - Evacuation Kits
    • Preparing an emergency "GO" kit
      • Plan how to assemble your kit with storage containers and resealable bags.
      • Start with the 5 P's:
        • People & pets - plan for the whole family, including pets and livestock
        • Prescriptions - dosages, medications, eyeglassess, hearing aids, medical equipment, and necessary batteries and power cords
        • Papers - have copies and/or electronic copies of insurance information, phone numbers, and other important documents
        • Personal needs - clothes, food, water, toiletries, first aid kit, cash, computers/tablets, usb's, phone chargers, and sanitation supplies
        • Priceless items - pictures, heirlooms, and irreplaceable memorabilia
      • Children's activities, toys, and comfort items
    • Choose a safe and easily accessible space to store your kit.  Make sure everyone knows where it is located.
    • Keep an eye on expiration dates for items in your kit.
    • Make a habit of refreshing stored batteries and updating paperwork and prescriptions.


     Evacuation Resources - Evacuation GO Kit Planning

     + General Planning - Evacuation Routes
    • Identify two evacuation routes, this way you have a backup plan in case your first option becomes impacted by heavy smoke or traffic congestion.
    • Know that evacuation shelters are not always determined until needed.
    • Pre-load evacuation routes into your vehicle GPS or cell phone.
    • Notify family/friends when you are evacuating and when you have made it to your destination safely.
    • If your community is being threatened by a disaster, leave early and don't wait to be told.


     Evacuation Resources - Evacuation Route Planning

     + General Planning - Plan & Practice
    • Create a family communication plan.
    • Adopt an out-of-area friend or relative as an additional point of contact to update during your evacuation.
    • Designate emergency meeting locations.
    • Plan and practice at least two evacuation routes.
    • Consider pets and large animals when creating an evacuation plan.
    • Update your homeowner's insurance to ensure that your policy reflects the current features of your home, and keep an updated inventory that documents the contents of your home.


     Evacuation Resources - Practice Your Evacuation

     + General Planning - When Evacuating...
    • Know how long officials are advising you have before you must leave, sometimes you will have time to prepare, other times you're advised to leave as soon as possible.
    • Keep your cell phone fully charged.
    • Check in on your neighbors and alert them to prepare.
    • Put your evacuation kit in your vehicle.
    • Carry car keys, wallet, ID, cell phone, and spare batteries or power banks.
    • Drink plenty of water.
    • Locate your pets and put them in carriers early.
    • Prepare horses & large animals for transport.


    If time allows: 

    • Close all windows.
    • Move interior furniture away from windows and doors.
    • Turn off pilot lights for gas appliances.
    • Turn off air conditioning.
    • Leave your lights on so that your house is visible to firefighters.
    • Bring combustible deck furniture inside the house or garage, or throw it further into the yard.  Move firewood away from the first 30-feet around your house or wooden attachments.
    • Turn off propane tanks and other gas at the meter.
    • Cover attic & crawl space vents with pre-cut plywood.
    • Gather irreplaceable, easily carried items (family photos, small heirlooms).
    • Collect & bring personal computer data & digital information backups.


    Evacuation Resources - When it's Time to Evacuate


     + Kids - Involving the Whole Family
    • Talk about the different types of disasters that could affect your area, and what to expect with each.
    • Don't forget about the specific needs in your family.  Your family's needs change over time, so update your plan and evacuation kits regularly.
    • Pick the same person for each family member to contact.  Pick someone out of town that may be easier to reach in a disaster.  Text, don't talk.  In an emergency, phone lines may be tied up.  It may be easier to text and this leaves phone lines open for emergency workers.
    • Decide on a safe, familiar, accessible place where your family can go for protection or to reunite.  If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.  Consider places in your house, in your neighborhood, and outside your city or town so you're prepared for any situation.
    • Make a list of contacts and plans.  Make sure everyone in the family has copies and keeps them in a safe place (backpack, wallet, in a notebook).  Put them in cell phones if your kids have them.
    • Hold regular household meetings to review and practice your plan.


    Evacuation Resources - Talking to Kids About Emergencies

     + Kids - Coping with Disasters
    • Disasters can leave children and teens feeling frightened, confused and insecure.
    • Encourage dialogue and answer questions.  Listen to your kids.  Ask them about their feelings and validate their concerns.  When they ask questions, give just the amount of information you feel your child needs.
    • Limit media exposure.  Intense media coverage of disasters can frighten your children and disturb teenagers.  If your children watch TV or use the internet, be available to talk with them and answer questions.
    • Make time for them and find support.  Help kids understand they are safe and secure by talking, playing, and doing other family activities.  Build support networks with friends and family to help your children cope.
    • Keep a routine.  Help your children feel as if they still have a sense of structure, which can make them feel more relaxed.  When schools and childcare open again, help children return to normal activities like going to class, sports, and play groups.
    • For many kids, reactions to disasters are short-term.  However, some children can be at risk for more long-term psychological stress.  Three risk factors for longer-lasting responses include:
      • Direct exposure to the disaster such as being evacuated, observing injuries of others, or experiencing injury.
      • Loss/grief relating to the death or serious injury of family or friends.
      • Ongoing stress from secondary effects, such as temporary housing, loss of social networks, loss of personal property, or parent's unemployment.
    • For more information on helping children cope with disasters, please visit American Academy of Pediatrics.


     Evacuation Resources - Helping Children Understand

     + Pets - Preparing Before a Disaster
    • Plan to take your pets with you in an evacuation.  If it is not safe for you to stay, it is not safe for them, either.
    • Know which hotels along your evacuation routes will accept pets in an emergency.  Call ahead and ask if no-pet policies could be waived in an emergency.
    • Most Red Cross shelters cannot accept pets because of health and safety concerns.  Service animals are allowed in Red Cross shelters.
    • Know which friends, relatives, boarding facilities, veterinarians can care for your animals in an emergency.  Prepare a list of phone numbers.
    • Be prepared to house multiple pets separately.
    • Acclimate your pets to their carriers prior to evacuation drills.
    • Include your pets in evacuation drills so that they become used to entering and traveling in their carriers calmly.
    • Make sure your pet's vaccinations are current and that all pets are wearing a collar with ID.
    • Consider having your pet microchipped.
    • For more detailed information on pet evacuations and safety, please visit ASPCA - Disaster Preparedness


     Evacuation Resources - Pet Evacuations

     + Pets - Disaster Evacuation Kits
    • Photocopied veterinary records (vaccinations, rabies certificate, prescriptions, medical summary)
    • Photocopied registration (proof of ownership or adoption records)
    • Pet description (breed, sex, color, weight)
    • Recent photographs for each pet
    • Microchip information
    • Your contact information
    • Water proof container for documents
    • Water, food, medications
      • 2-week supply of food, water, and medications for each animal
      • Non-spill food and water dishes
      • Manual can opener
      • Feeding and medication instructions for each animal 
    • Other supplies
      • Collar with ID
      • Pet first aid kit
      • Appropriately sized carrier with bedding
      • Toys
      • Litter box and litter (cats)
      • Cleaning supplies for accidents
     + Pets - Caring for Your Pets After a Disaster
    • The behavior of pets may change drastically after a disaster, becoming aggressive or defensive.  Be aware of their well-being and protect them from hazards to ensure the safety of other people and animals.
    • Watch your animals closely and keep them under your direct control as fences and gates may be damaged.
    • Pets may become disoriented, particularly if the disaster has affected scent markers that normally allow them to find their home.
    • Be aware of hazards at nose and paw or hoof level, particularly debris, spilled chemicals, fertilizers and other substances that might not seem to be dangerous to humans.
    • Consult your veterinarian if any behavior problems persist.
     + Livestock - Disaster Evacuation Kits
    • Include copies of current vaccination records.
    • Include copies of health certificates.
    • Be prepared with proof of ownership, including proper registering and branding of livestock, proof of ownership records, microchip records, insurance paperwork, photos or bills of sale.
    • Have a list of all current medications and dosages.
    • Assemble necessary tack such as ropes and halters.  Avoid ropes and halters made of nylon material that could melt during a fire's extreme temperatures.
    • Make a list of important phone numbers.
      • Veterinarian
      • Local animal control agency
      • Animal shelter/boarding facility
      • Friends or relatives who would be willing to temporarily take care of your livestock
      • Learn if your county has a designated livestock boarding location.
      • Keep a clipboard of all important numbers in a highly visible area in the barn in case you're not home and first responders are able to provide assistance.
      • Consider creating a Buddy System Network with a shared process where neighbors evacuate each other's livestock (if possible) when you're away during an evacuation.
    • Make contingency plans for feed and water in the event of an evacuation.
      • Plan for hay, grain, and water for three to seven days.
      • Gather feed pans and buckets.
    • Include miscellaneous items as needed for your livestock.
      • Shavings
      • Pitchfork
      • Leather gloves
      • Grooming supplies
      • Fly spray
      • First aid kits
      • Cleaning supplies


     Evacuation Resources - Livestock Evacuation


     + Livestock - Preparing to Evacuate Your Livestock
    • Plan different routes to leave your property.
    • Plan multiple destinations that can accept your livestock.
    • Make sure your vehicle is set up to tow your livestock trailer.
    • Make sure your trailer is in road-worthy condition.
    • Practice loading your livestock in the trailer prior to evacuation.
    • If you are unable to evacuate with your livestock, consider the following as identification options.
      • Use spray paint or a livestock crayon to write your name and phone number on the side of the animal.
      • Use clippers to shave your phone number into the animal's coat.
      • Braid a temporary ID tag with pre-written contact info into the horse's mane.
      • Attach a neck band or ear tag with contact information.
    • If relocation of livestock is not possible:
      • Open gates to allow livestock to escape.
      • Turn livestock out to a pasture that is grazed down, disked, or field that is a high moisture crop (irrigated).
      • Close all gates behind livestock to prevent them re-entering an unsafe area.