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Emergency Preparedness

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Be informed

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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

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Many state and local governments have free emergency alert services, which can send emergency alerts to your cellphone or email.
  • 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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Content last updated: January 24, 2011.

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