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Information is vital during emergencies. Being informed will help you and your family members stay calm, make wise decisions, and give you confidence to deal with crisis. Take these steps:
Before an emergency
- Find out what natural or manmade disasters are possible where you live and how you can respond.
- Learn about the emergency response plans that have been set up where you live. These plans may include such information as:
- How you will be kept informed during an emergency (For instance, via emergency alert system broadcasts on radio and TV, outdoor warning sirens, or "reverse 911," which is a telephone call made to you that provides recorded information)
- Evacuation guidance and evacuation routes
- Public shelter locations
- Medical shelter locations
- Talk to your children about what your family will do in various emergency situations.
- Find out the emergency plans of places where family members spend time, such as schools, daycares, and workplaces.
- Find a pet friendly shelter should you need to evacuate. Most public shelters do not allow pets.
- Talk to neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency. Find out who may have special needs and need your help, such as an older neighbor. Also, find out who has special skills or equipment that would be helpful in an emergency.
- Learn CPR and basic first aid.
- Learn how to use text messaging. Text messaging often works when phone calls cannot get through.
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During an emergency
- Monitor TV or radio for information or instructions. Keep in mind that local police and first responders may not be able to tell you what is happening or what you should do right away.
- If you are told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so right away. If you are told to shelter in place, stay where you are and do not leave.
- Let your family know you are safe. If possible, get in touch with your out-of-town emergency contact, who can relay information on your safety and whereabouts to other loved ones. You also may try to connect with out-of-town friends and family members using these free services:
- American Red Cross Safe and Well website – You can register that you are "safe and well." Concerned family and friends can search the website for your name.
- Contact Loved Ones – You can use this free emergency voicemail service from any phone to leave a message for friends and family members.
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More information on Be informed
Explore other publications and websites
Community and State Information - Use this interactive state map to find resources and information on preparedness in your community.
Coping With Disasters - This website gives links to resources related to coping after a disaster. Topics include post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and common reactions.
Emergency Preparedness and Response - This website keeps you informed about public health emergencies and provides information about specific emergency situations.
Emergency Wound Care After a Natural Disaster - This publication describes how people can care for minor wounds and prevent infection after a natural disaster and when medical attention is needed.
Learn How to Shelter in Place - This factsheet gives the steps on how to take shelter where you are quickly and safely if an emergency situation arises.
Maintain a Healthy State of Mind - This resource explores common reactions to disasters and how people in different age groups can prepare for, respond to, and recover from traumatic experiences.
Recover After a Disaster (Copyright © American Red Cross) - Use this website to find links to information to help keep you safe and speed your recovery after a disaster. You will also find ideas on what you can do to help make yourself and your home safer from future disasters.
Safe and Well (Copyright © American Red Cross) - This website helps make communication with family and loved ones easier during an emergency. Search for people in a disaster area or register yourself as safe and well.
Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster (Copyright © American Red Cross) - Disasters can bring about significant stress. This resource talks about what you may be feeling and how to take action to help you feel more in control.
Teaching Your Child How to Use 911 (Copyright © Nemours Foundation) - This website helps parents talk to children about how to use 911, when to call 911, and more safety tips.
Understand Quarantine and Isolation - This website explains why the government may quarantine and isolate populations to control the spread of disease.
Connect with other organizations
Content last updated January 24, 2011.
Resources last updated January 24, 2011.
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