Emergency Preparedness

En Español

Unexpected events such as power outages and natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes can happen without a moment’s notice. That is why being ready for emergencies is crucial. Emergency preparedness is exactly what it sounds like; it involves planning, having supplies on hand and knowing how to stay safe during an emergency. Being ready for crises before they happen can not only protect you and your loved ones but also underserved communities where disasters can worsen inequities.

Who can make a difference with emergency preparedness?


Build an emergency supply kit. Being prepared means stocking up on supplies. An emergency supply kit is a collection of tools that can help in the event of an emergency. Kit supplies can include flashlights, nonperishable food, extra clothes, a first aid kit and personal hygiene items. You also should have a gallon of water per person/pet per day, for three days, if possible.

Have a plan. Create an emergency plan with your family, friends or household. Designate a meeting spot where you all can gather in case you’re separated during an emergency. Learn your local emergency alerts and warnings. Practice emergency drills and memorize evacuation routes.


Host a disaster training. Disaster trainings can teach communities how to prepare and handle emergencies. Volunteer with local and national organizations, like the American Red Cross, to provide training to community members on how to act before, during and after a disaster. Assist organizations, such as food pantries and daycares, in building capacity and emergency planning by sharing tools like virtual disaster preparedness training.

Mark emergency exits and practice emergency drills. If there’s a fire, flood or other disaster, people need to know where to go. All public buildings are required to have clearly marked emergency exits. Evacuation route signs can also warn people of dangers to avoid during emergencies. Encourage schools and local businesses to conduct drills, such as fire or lockdown drills, to ensure that everyone in the community knows where to go during an emergency, even when they aren’t home.


Educate students on emergency preparedness. Disasters can be stressful for people of all ages, including children and teenagers. Schools can help prepare students for emergencies through educational opportunities like assemblies, class projects and preparedness drills. Trainings can be tailored so they are age-appropriate, useful and not scary. Making sure students are equipped for unexpected events can protect their mental health and help them recover quickly from emergencies.

Regularly test emergency alerts. There are emergency alert systems in most communities. Sirens are still used in many places, but there are also digital options now like mobile alerts, TV and radio. City and state officials should regularly test alert systems to ensure that future warnings will go through in a real emergency. They should remind residents what alerts look or sound like and what to do when an alert sounds. Most importantly, they should consider using alert systems that provide multilingual alerts and appropriate messaging for those with disabilities.


Fund mitigation efforts. Mitigation is about taking action before disaster strikes to lessen its impact. Allocating funds toward mitigation will promote more projects made to protect the environment such as green infrastructure. The federal government should provide funding to local organizations to work on community projects to better prepare their areas. This can help reduce the financial burden on communities and make response and recovery time for disasters more efficient.

Improve equity in disaster recovery. Due to our nation’s long history of systemic and environmental racism, people from racial and ethnic minority groups are the ones most affected by disasters. Federal agencies must continue providing funding for emergency initiatives, especially in communities that are disproportionately impacted by disasters. The federal government must address equity before disasters happen by building resilience and investing in disadvantaged communities.

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