In a disaster, local officials and relief workers cannot reach everyone immediately. Help may not arrive for hours or days. You and your family -- and don't forget to include the needs of those with disabilities -- need to be prepared ahead of time because you won't have time to shop or search for the supplies you will need when a disaster strikes.
Most disasters are natural disasters, the result of some force of nature, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods. Some natural disasters can be predicted, such as hurricanes and severe winter storms, while others, such as tornadoes and earthquakes, happen with little or no warning.
Some disasters are the cause of human actions, intentional or unintentional. A disaster plan will help with safety, security, and comfort.
Regardless of the type of disaster, there are things you can do to prepare. Contact your local Red Cross chapter, visit the FEMA Web site, or Ready.gov to make sure you are aware of the potential for natural disasters in your community. After you have identified the types of disasters that could strike where you live, create a family disaster plan that can apply to any type of disaster – natural, unintentional, or intentional.
Prepare an emergency supplies kit
Disaster can occur suddenly and without warning. They can be frightening for adults, but they are traumatic for children if they don't know what to do when these events occur. Children depend on daily routines. When an emergency disturbs their routine, children can become nervous. In an emergency, they'll look to parents or other adults to help.
How parents react to an emergency gives children an indication on how to act. They see their parents' fear as proof that the danger is real. A parent's response during this time may have a long-term impact. Including children in the family's recovery plans will help them feel that their life will return to normal.
Families should prepare an emergency supplies kit and develop a plan. Practice your plan so that everyone will remember what to do in an emergency. Everyone in the home, including children, should play a part in the family's response and recovery efforts. Remember: make the plan simple so everyone can remember the details.
Caring for Pets
If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. Unfortunately, animals are also affected by disaster.
The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.
If you evacuate your home, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND! Pets most likely cannot survive on their own and if by some remote chance they do, you may not be able to find them when you return.
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; consider loved ones or friends outside of your immediate area who would be willing to host you and your pets in an emergency.
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.
Use the Pet Owners Brochure and the Pet Instructional Video to help you create an emergency plan and kit for your pet.
For additional information, please contact the Humane Society of the United States.