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Emergency Preparedness

wildfire

Unexpected blizzards, wildfires, earthquakes, or other disasters can leave a wake of devastation and have long-lasting effects.  Taking the time to prepare now can not only reduce the fear and anxiety often associated with disasters, but also help minimize the short and long-term impacts on your life and your property.  Below are some some tips and resources to help you prepare for emergency situations.

1. Financial and Personal Information

Disasters often create a catch-22.  The disaster destroys people’s important financial and personal information, but these are often the things most needed to begin recovering from the disaster.  Organizing your financial and personal information is a great first step in emergency preparedness. Do you have an appropriate place for filing each document? Have you told anyone else where you keep your vital information? Have you shared your wishes in the event of your death? Are your documents available to ‘grab and go’ in case of evacuation? Take action now to avoid financial problems later!  FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit is a great place to start.

2. Food and Water

Disasters may cut off access to food and clean water.  To prepare for this, you should be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days.  Prepare a three-day supply of food and clean water to have on hand, rotating through and replacing your supply every 6-12 months.  Choose shelf-stable foods that don’t require refrigeration, and make sure you have a manual can opener and eating utensils.  Have at least one method for cleaning water, such as water treatment drops, a water filtration system, or a way to boil water.  Don’t forget to include food for your pets!  For tips on preparing a three-day supply of food, safely storing food, and water storage and treatment, check out the following CSU Extension Fact Sheets:

Three-Day Emergency Supply of Shelf Stable Food
Food Safety and Storage for Emergency Preparedness
Water Storage

3. Emergency Supplies

In addition to preparing a 3-day supply of food and water, it’s important to create an emergency supply kit to meet the unique needs of your family during a potential disaster.  Gather and organize these items into a small bag and keep it readily accessible and well-stocked.  Suggested items for an emergency supply kit include:

  1. First-aid kit
  2. Battery-powered flashlight with extra batteries
  3. Battery-powered radio with extra batteries
  4. Extra Prescription and over-the-counter medications, or a list of all medications
  5. Personal hygiene items
  6. Complete change of clothing and sturdy shoes
  7. Blankets or sleeping bags
  8. Rain gear
  9. 12-hour light sticks
  10. Knife and/or multi-tool
  11. Manual can opener
  12. Whistle to alert rescue parties
  13. Face mask (to avoid inhalation of dangerous bacteria or smoke/debris)
  14. Local maps
  15. Cell phone charger and a backup battery
  16. Matches in a waterproof container
  17. Cash or traveler’s checks
  18. Books, games, puzzles, or other activities for kids
  19. Glasses and contact lense solution
  20. Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes, diaper rash cream

For more information on how to build an emergency supply kit, visit:

Operation Emergency Prepare
Emergency Preparedness Starts at Home
Ready.gov’s Build a Kit

4. Planning

Once you’ve gathered your financial and personal information, food and water, and emergency supplies, make a plan.  Consider how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings, where you will take shelter, which evacuation route you will follow, and how you will communicate with your family and/or members of your household.  Make sure you account for any unique needs your household may have, such as an elderly parent, a disabled child, dietary restrictions, or pets. Go over this plan with your family, making sure everyone is familiar with it.  Once everyone has agreed upon the plan, periodically practice it to make sure everyone understands, remembers, and is prepared to act. Educate yourself on common emergency situations in your area, and make plans specific to each type of disaster.  For more information and resources on how to write your emergency plan, check out Ready.gov’s Make a Plan.  

Other Resources

Ready.gov

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)