Devastating acts, such as the
terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, have
left many concerned about the possibility of future incidents in the
United States and their potential impact. They have raised uncertainty
about what might happen next, increasing stress levels. Nevertheless,
there are things you can do to prepare for the unexpected and reduce
the stress that you may feel now and later should another emergency
arise. Taking preparatory action can reassure you and your children
that you can exert a measure of control even in the face of such
What You Can Do to Prepare
1. Create an emergency communications plan.
Choose an out-of-town contact your family or household will call or
e-mail to check on each other should a disaster occur. Your selected
contact should live far enough away that they would be unlikely to be
directly affected by the same event, and they should know they are the
chosen contact. Make sure every household member has that contact's,
and each other's, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers (home, work,
pager and cell). Leave these contact numbers at your children's
schools, if you have children, and at your workplace. Your family
should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be
patient and try again later or try e-mail. Many people flood the
telephone lines when emergencies happen but e-mail can sometimes get
through when calls don't.
2. Establish a meeting place.
Having a predetermined meeting place away from your home will save
time and minimize confusion should your home be affected or the area
evacuated. You may even want to make arrangements to stay with a
family member or friend in case of an emergency. Be sure to include
any pets in these plans, since pets are not permitted in shelters and
some hotels will not accept them.
3. Assemble a disaster supplies kit.
4. Check on the school emergency plan of any school-age children you
You need to know if they will they keep children at school until a
parent or designated adult can pick them up or send them home on their
own. Be sure that the school has updated information about how to
reach parents and responsible caregivers to arrange for pickup. And,
ask what type of authorization the school may require to release a
child to someone you designate, if you are not able to pick up your
child. During times of emergency the school telephones may be
overwhelmed with calls.
If Disaster Strikes
Remain calm and be patient.
Follow the advice of local emergency officials.
Listen to your radio or television for news and
If the disaster occurs near you, check for injuries.
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
If the disaster occurs near your home while you are
there, check for damage using a flashlight. Do not light matches or
candles or turn on electrical switches. Check for fires, fire
hazards and other household hazards. Sniff for gas leaks, starting
at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off
the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
Shut off any other damaged utilities.
Confine or secure your pets.
Call your family contactódo not use the telephone
again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
Check on your neighbors, especially those who are
elderly or disabled.
If local authorities ask you to leave your home, they have a good
reason to make this request, and you should heed the advice
immediately. Listen to your radio or television and follow the
instructions of local emergency officials and keep these simple tips
Wear long-sleeved shirts, long pants and sturdy shoes
so you can be protected as much as possible.
Take your disaster supplies kit.
Take your pets with you; do not leave them behind.
Because pets are not permitted in public shelters, follow your plan
to go to a relative's or friend's home, or find a "pet-friendly"
Lock your home.
Use travel routes specified by local
authoritiesódon't use shortcuts because certain areas may be
impassable or dangerous.
Stay away from downed power lines.
Listen to local authorities.
Your local authorities will provide you with the most accurate
information specific to an event in your area. Staying tuned to local
radio and television, and following their instructions is your safest
If you're sure you
Call your family contact to tell them where you are
going and when you expect to arrive.
Shut off water and electricity before leaving, if
instructed to do so. Leave natural gas service ON unless local
officials advise you otherwise. You may need gas for heating and
cooking, and only a professional can restore gas service in your
home once it's been turned off. In a disaster situation it could
take weeks for a professional to respond.
First Aid Primer