Disasters Don’t Wait. Make Your Plan Today.
We will bring you four weeks of preparedness topics during the month of September. All content for this information was made available at ready.gov.
WEEK #3: Prepare for Disasters
Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.
How to get Emergency Alerts
Wireless Emergency Alerts
Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert the public to serious emergencies. They are sent through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), which integrates the nation’s alert and warning systems, technologies and infrastructure.
What you need to know about WEAs:
- WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the president of the United States.
- To provide comments or concerns about a WEA sent in your area contact local officials directly.
- WEAs can be issued for five alert categories: imminent threat, public safety, AMBER, Presidential, and test messages.
- WEAs look like text messages but are designed to get your attention with a unique sound and vibration repeated twice.
- WEAs are no more than 360 characters and include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take and the agency issuing the alert.
- WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls or data sessions that are in progress.
- Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe.
If you are not are not receiving Wireless Emergency Alerts here are some tips to troubleshoot your mobile device:
- Check the settings on your mobile phones and review your user manual (you may be able to find this online too)
- Older phones may not be WEA capable, and some cell phone models require you to enable WEAs.
- Most mobile service providers call these messages WEAs, but some manufacturers refer to them as “Government Alerts,” or “Emergency Alert Messages.”
- Check with your wireless providers to see if they can resolve the issue
- All major phone providers and some smaller providers participate in WEA
- Federal Communications Commission (FCC) registry of WEA providers
- FEMA Integrated Public Alert Warning System (IPAWS)
Emergency Alert System
- The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that allows the president to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency. The alerts are sent through broadcasters, satellite digital audio services, direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems and wireless cable systems.
- The EAS may also be used by state and local authorities to deliver important emergency information such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts and local incident information targeted to specific areas.
- The president has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated. FEMA is responsible for national-level EAS tests and exercises.
- The EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable.
NOAA Weather Radio
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations that broadcast continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.
- NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- NWR also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security or public safety threats through the Emergency Alert System.
- Double check your current insurance coverage. Make sure you understand your options for coverage and choose the package that best meets your needs. Take the time to document your property, taking inventory of your possessions with photographic or video evidence. Verify that your coverage is appropriate for the disasters that are relevant to your location and present hazards.
- Consider your needs in the event of a major power outage. Consider the purchase of a portable generator, and coordinate with a qualified electrician to install a double throw switch for safety. Make sure the generator is sufficient for your individual needs.
WEEK #2: BUILD A KIT
After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.
Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.
A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:
- Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation)
- Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
- Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
- Manual can opener (for food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
- Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)
Additional Emergency Supplies
Since Spring of 2020, the CDC has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.
Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:
- Cloth face coverings (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler’s checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil
- Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Maintaining Your Kit
After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.
Kit Storage Locations
Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.
- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.
WEEK #1: MAKE A PLAN
Step 1: Put a plan together by discussing the questions below with your family, friends or household to start your emergency plan.
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
- Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?
- Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update my emergency plans due to Coronavirus.
- Get cloth face coverings (for everyone over 2 years old), disinfectants, and check my sheltering plan.
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets or specific needs like operating medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to create your own.
Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household
- Family Emergency Communication Guide (PDF)
- Family Communication Plan Fillable Card (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Families or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Kids or (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Commuters (PDF)
- Pet Owners (PDF)
- Family Emergency Communication Planning Document (PDF)
- Family Emergency Communication Plan Wallet Cards (PDF)
- Know Your Alerts and Warnings (PDF)
- Protect Critical Documents and Valuables (PDF)
- Document and Insure Your Property (PDF)
- Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (PDF)
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Disaster Checklist (PDF)
- Make a Plan (Video)