Preparing Your Home & Family
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do to safeguard your family and property is your best protection and your responsibility.
Preparing in advance for an emergency should include the following:
- Make a Kit of Emergency Supplies
- Items for Those with Special and/or Medical Needs
- Have an Emergency Communications Plan
- Generator Safety
Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for the duration of the emergency event:
- While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air. Consider putting together two kits. In one, put everything needed to stay where you are and make it on your own. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you need to evacuate.
- You'll need a gallon of fresh water per person per day. Include in the kits canned and dried foods that are easy to store and prepare. During the cold weather season, include warm clothes and a sleeping bag for each member of the family.
- Start now by gathering basic emergency supplies
A flashlight, a battery-powered radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, toilet articles, prescription medicines and other special things your family may need. It's smart to have something for each member of the family that covers their mouth and nose.
Keep a list of important Emergency Assistance Agency phone numbers you may need in the event of an emergency:
- New York State Emergency Management Office: (518) 457-2200
- Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): 1-800-480-2520
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security: 1-800-BE-READY
- U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: 1-800-311-3435
- U.S. Department of Energy: 1-800-DIAL DOE (1-800-342-5363)
- National Weather Service
- Red Cross: Nassau County: (516) 747-3500
- Red Cross: Suffolk County: (631) 924-6700
Consider including these recommended supplies in your Emergency Supply Kit
- Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Moist towelettes for sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off burst water utilities
- Can opener for food
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Infant formula and diapers, if you have an infant
- Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Water & Food
- One gallon of fresh water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
- Children, nursing mothers, and sick people may need more water.
- During the summer, more water may be necessary.
- Store water tightly in clean plastic containers such as soft drink bottles.
- Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.
- Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.
- Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.
- Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.
- Choose foods your family will eat such as ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola, peanut butter, dried fruit, nuts, crackers, canned juices, non-perishable pasteurized milk, high-energy foods, vitamins, food for infants, comfort/stress foods
- Food Preservation During Outages
Clothing and Bedding
When cold weather arrives, you must think about warmth. It is possible that the power will be out and you will not have heat. Rethink your clothing and bedding supplies to account for growing children and other family members. One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including:
- A jacket or coat
- Long pants
- A long sleeve shirt
- Sturdy shoes
- A hat and gloves
- A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Extra socks
- Rain gear
- Feminine supplies
- Personal hygiene items
Important Family Documents
Keep copies of important family records such as insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container.
First Aid Kit
In any emergency a family member or you yourself may be cut, burned or suffer other injuries. If you have these basic supplies you are better prepared to help your loved ones when they are hurt. Remember, many injuries are not life threatening and do not require immediate professional medical attention. Yet, knowing how to treat minor injuries can make a difference in an emergency and prevent a minor injury from becoming more serious. Consider taking a first aid class, but simply having the following things can help you stop bleeding, prevent infection and assist in decontamination. Things you should have:
- A first aid manual
- Two pairs of Latex, or other sterile gloves (if
you are allergic to Latex).
Sterile dressings to stop bleeding.
- Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect.
- Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.
- Burn ointment to prevent infection.
- Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes.
- Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant.
- Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine and asthma inhalers. You should periodically rotate medicines to account for expiration dates.
- Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose and blood pressure monitoring equipment and supplies.
- Sun screen
- Hot and cold packs
- Cell Phone
- Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
- Anti-diarrhea medication
- Antacid (for upset stomach)
- Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
- Tips for those with medical needs
Remember the special needs of your family members. Infants, the elderly and persons with disabilities or medical conditions need the same planning as everyone else, and sometimes a little more. Tips for those with medical needs
- Formula, diapers, bottles, powdered milk, medications, moist towelettes, diaper rash ointment
- Phone numbers for medical doctors, or contracted health services
Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication, insulin and other prescription drugs.
- Denture needs
- Contact lenses and supplies
- Extra eye glasses
- Plan how you will evacuate or signal for help.
- Plan emergency procedures with home health care agencies or workers.
- Tell others where you keep your emergency supplies.
- Teach others how to operate necessary equipment.
- Label equipment like wheelchairs, canes or walkers.
- List of prescription medications including dosage in your supply kits. Include any allergies.
- Extra eyeglasses and hearing-aid batteries.
- Extra wheelchair batteries or other special equipment in your supply kit.
- A list of the style and serial numbers of medical devices such as pacemakers in your emergency supply kits.
- Copies of medical insurance and Medicare cards.
- List of doctors and emergency contacts.
- Tips for those with medical needs
For People with Disabilities:
- Create a support network to help in an emergency.
- Tell these people where you keep your emergency supplies.
- Give one member of your support network a key to your house or apartment.
- Contact your city or county government's emergency information management office.
- Many local offices keep lists of people with disabilities so they can be located quickly in a sudden emergency.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to help identify your disability.
- If you are dependent on dialysis or other life sustaining treatment, know the location and availability of more than one facility.
- Show others how to operate your wheelchair.
- Know the size and weight of your wheelchair, in addition to whether or not it is collapsible, in case it has to be transported.
- Prescription medicines, list of medications including dosage, list of any allergies.
- Hearing-aid batteries.
- Extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen.
- Keep a list of the style and serial number of medical devices. Medical insurance and Medicare cards. List of doctors, relatives or friends who should be notified if you are hurt.
- Tips for those with medical needs
Find out what kinds of disasters, both natural and man-made, are most likely to occur on Long Island and how you will be notified. Methods of getting your attention vary from community to community. One common method is to broadcast via emergency radio and TV broadcasts. You might hear a special siren, or get a telephone call, or emergency workers may go door-to-door.
- Call the closest chapter of the American Red Cross for emergency information that applies to your community.
- Be prepared to assess the situation, use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
- Depending on your circumstances, the first important decision is deciding whether to stay or go. You should understand and plan for both possibilities.
Develop a Family Communications Plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-state contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient.
At Work and School
Like individuals and families, schools, daycare providers, workplaces, neighborhoods and apartment buildings should all have site-specific emergency plans. Think about the places where your family spends time: school, work and other places you frequent. Talk to your children's schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency.
- If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan and a building evacuation plan that is regularly practiced.
- Review and practice it with your employee community. Take a critical look at your heating, ventilation and air conditioning system to determine if it is secure, and be sure you know how to turn it off if you need to. Think about what to do if your employees can't go home. Make sure you have appropriate supplies on hand.
- If you are a parent, or guardian make sure schools and daycare providers have emergency response plans. Ask how they will communicate with families during a crisis. Ask if they store adequate food, water and other basic supplies. Find out where they plan to go if they must get away.
- Working together during an emergency also makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together.
Neighborhoods and Apartment Buildings
A community working together during an emergency makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
- Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
- Decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Make back-up plans for children in case you can't get home in an emergency.
- Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.
Deciding to Stay or Go
In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do. However, you should monitor TV or radio news reports for information or official instructions as they become available. If you're specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
There are circumstances when staying put makes the best sense. Some emergencies are short lived, and your advance preparations can make the situation safe and fairly comfortable.
There may be conditions under which you will decide to get away, or there may be situations when you are ordered to leave. Plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go.
Create an Evacuation Plan:
Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood. If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate. Become familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Take your emergency supply kit. Lock the door behind you. Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency. For a list of pet-friendly hotels, visit this site.
- Locate the electric, gas and water shut-off valves.
- Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
- Teach family members how to turn off utilities.
- If you turn the gas off, a professional must turn it back on. Do not attempt to do this yourself.
- Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
- Check with neighbors who may need a ride
In A Moving Vehicle
- If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
- If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- If you must leave the car, jump directly from an open window to the ground. Avoid any contact with metal parts of the car.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions as they become available.
If you plan to use a portable generator to provide power during an outage, make every effort to use it properly.
- A generator should only be used outside on stable ground and away from any windows and vents to prevent deadly fumes from entering the home through an opening.
- Read the manufacturer’s instructions. This will help you operate the generator as safely as possible.
- Do not connect the generator to your home’s wiring. Power can flow out of your home into the electric system creating a hazard for crews working in the area.
- This goes for any time of the year – install carbon monoxide (CO) alarms in your home. CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by fuel combustion that can make you ill with flu-like symptoms and in extreme cases can be fatal.
- Never fill the generator with fuel while it is running or still hot, and don’t store gasoline in your home.
- You will not be able to use all appliances at once. You may have to turn off some appliances to avoid overload. And make sure any connected appliances are off before starting the generator.
- Generators should be used for emergency standby power ONLY and for short periods of time. Your refrigerator does not need to run 24 hours a day to keep food fresh. Monitor the internal temperature, which should be kept at 40° or below.
- Learn more about generator safety
It is a challenge to be prepared for emergencies in our world of man-made and natural phenomena. While there is no way to predict what will happen, or what your personal circumstances will be, there are simple things you can do now to prepare yourself and your loved ones. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural or man-made emergency. The emergencies of today's world demand more than ever that you be better prepared for the unexpected.
How To Report An Outage
- Family Needs Checklist (PDF)
- First Aid Checklist (PDF)
- Disaster Supply Checklist (PDF)
- Preparation Checklist (PDF
- Download the Brochure (PDF)