Each person's needs and abilities are unique, but every individual can take important steps to prepare for all kinds of emergencies and put plans in place. By evaluating your own personal needs and those of all members of your household, you can be better prepared for any situation.

Preparing for an Emergency

  • Consider how a disaster might affect your individual needs or those of your family.
  • Plan to be self-sufficient, at least for a period of time. It’s possible that you will not have access to a medical facility or drugstore.
  • Identify what resources you use on a daily basis and what you might do if they are limited or not available.
  • Create a kit with your family’s unique considerations in mind. What do you need to maintain your health, safety and independence?
  • If you, a family member, or neighbor has difficulty communicating, create a card for first responders that details what you will need and where your emergency supplies are located should you need to be transported or evacuated.
  • If you or someone in your household has an access or functional need, you may have to take additional steps to prepare.
  • Find out about individual assistance that may be available in your community.
  • Create a Smart911 profile. Having a Smart911 profile will allow 9-1-1 call takers to share important family and medical information with first responders during an emergency.

For additional steps you can take to better prepare yourself and your loved ones for disasters, refer to the following informational sheets, which are available in Arabic, English, Spanish, French, and Nepali:

For more information about access and functional needs citizen preparedness visit

Get a Kit

During a disaster, it is important for residents be ready to take care of themselves & their families until help can arrive.

As a general rule, you should be prepared to take care of yourself and your family for at least three days. Assembling supplies in an emergency preparedness kit will help! Consider keeping a kit at home, at work, and even in your vehicle, so that you are prepared wherever you are.

What Do You Need in an Emergency Preparedness Kit?

  • Non-perishable food items
  • Water - at least one gallon per person per day
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid supplies
  • Copies of important documents (birth certificates, licenses and insurance policies.) Be sure to also include recent photos of family members, pets and household items of value. Consider keeping a copy of these documents on a password-protected USB drive.
  • Any special items for family members, such as infant formula, eyeglasses and medications
  • Change of clothing
  • Sleeping bag or blanket
  • Battery powered radio
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Waterproof matches
  • Comfort items (toys, books, puzzles, and games)
  • Extra house keys and car keys
  • List of contact names and phone numbers
  • Food, water and supplies for pets

Additional Items to Consider:

Hygiene and Sanitation Items

  • Bar soap and shampoo
  • Baby wipes
  • Toothpaste and toothbrushes
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Infant supplies
  • Toilet paper
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Household bleach with no additives, and an eyedropper for purifying drinking water
  • Large trash bags


  • Crescent wrench for turning off gas/utilities
  • Screwdriver, pliers and hammer
  • Plastic tape and sheeting
  • Knife or razor blades

For more information about building an emergency preparedness kit visit:

Make a Plan

Communicating During a Disaster

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another before an emergency happens.

  • Limit non-emergency phone calls. This will minimize network congestion, free up “space” for emergency communications, and conserve battery power if you are using a wireless phone.
  • Keep all phone calls brief. If you need to use a phone, try to use it only to convey vital information to emergency personnel and/or family.
  • For non-emergency calls, try text messaging when using your wireless phone. In many cases text messages will go through when your call may not. Consider creating an "In Case of Emergency" contact group message so that you can simultaneously inform all important contacts that you are safe.
  • Post on social media to inform family/friends that you are safe.
  • If in your vehicle, try to place calls while your vehicle is stationary.
  • If you have Call Forwarding on your home number, forward your home number to your wireless number, particularly in the event of an evacuation.
  • If you do not have electric power in your home, consider using your car to charge cell phones or listen to news alerts on the car radio. But use caution – do not try to reach your car if it is not safe to do so, and be aware of carbon monoxide emissions from your car if it is a closed space, such as a garage.
  • Tune-in to broadcast and radio news for important news alerts.

Download & Print this FREE Communications Plan  

Vulnerable Populations

Preparedness For Children

Before an emergency strikes, be sure to build an emergency preparedness kit for your family. Build the kit to fit your family's unique needs and update the kit regularly. Below are some additional things to consider adding to your kit when preparing for an emergency:

  • Comfort Items: Stuffed animal, doll, pacifier or blanket
  • Personal Hygiene Products: Baby wipes, diapers, nursing pads
  • Children’s Activities: Books, puzzles, games
  • Infant Nutrition: Nursing supplies, formula, pre-packaged baby food
  • Medical Needs: Infant/child fever reducer, rash ointment

Build a Communications Plan

Be sure to include your children in your emergency planning process. Discuss where your family will meet if separated during an emergency, as well as how you will keep in contact.

  • Download, print & fill out a Communications Plan.
  • Family Meeting Place: Pick a safe, easily-identifiable spot to meet if separated, such as a local school or library.
  • Out of Town Emergency Contact: Include the contact information of a trusted person, who would not be affected by the current emergency.
  • In Case of Emergency Contact: Cell phones should have an "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) programmed into their contacts. Teach children to understand what this means.
  • Include Texting: Text messages are a great way to get in contact with each other during an emergency, when phone lines may be overwhelmed. Consider creating a family group text message so that you can streamline the process of notifying your loved ones you are safe.
  • Understand Childcare Emergency Plans: Ensure your child's caregivers (school, daycare) have a plan for what your child is supposed to do in case of an emergency or severe weather incident.
  • Smart911 Safety Profile: If you have children in your home, sign up for Smart911 & Alert HC at Include important information for your children including medical information, contact information, vehicle information, and their pictures. This information will be provided to 9-1-1 and first responders when you/your child calls 9-1-1!

Once your family is out of harm's way, children may still be frightened or confused. Here are some tips to help comfort them:

  • Limit TV time: Intense media coverage of disasters can frighten young children.
  • Listen: Discuss your child's concerns about the situation.
  • Comfort: Let them know their safety is your top priority.
  • Be aware: Changes in sleeping, eating and other behaviors can indicate distress. Seek professional support and counseling if they persist.
  • Make time: Help kids understand they're safe and secure by talking, playing and other family activities.
  • Remain Calm: Your child will learn how to deal with these events from you. Demonstrating calmness will help keep children more calm.
  • Care: Make a point of showing sensitivity toward other families impacted by the disaster.
  • Routine: Help your children return to normal activities including school, sports and play groups.
  • Volunteer: Helping others can give your child a sense of control, security and empathy

For more information on preparing children for emergencies please see: FEMA's Ready Kids.

Preparedness for Older Residents

Plan For An Emergency:

  • Download a Communications Plan to create an emergency contact list.
  • Know how you will evacuate if needed. If you have access & functional needs, be sure your evacuation & transportation plan fits those needs.
  • Create an Emergency Plan.
  • Sign up for Alert Hamilton County to get severe weather & emergency alerts:
  • Fill out a Smart911 Safety Profile to include important medical information, home information & pictures in case you need to call 9-1-1 during an emergency. Visit to fill out a profile.

Medication and Medical Supply Needs:

  • Include medications and medical supplies in your emergency preparedness kit. If you take medicine or use a medical treatment on a daily basis, be sure you have a large enough supply of the necessary items for at least a week.
  • Keep a copy of your prescriptions as well as dosage or treatment information.
  • Identify back-up medical service providers in your area in case you experience a power outage. If you use medical equipment in your home that requires electricity to operate, consider a battery back-up or home generator.

Additional Tips:

  • Have extra supplies in your home if you use eyeglasses, hearing aids and hearing aid batteries, wheelchair batteries, and oxygen.
  • Have copies of your medical insurance, Medicare and Medicaid cards readily available.

For more information about preparedness for older residents, please visit:

Pet Preparedness

Prepare a Pet Preparedness Kit:

  • Food and Water- Keep at least three days of food in an airtight, waterproof container. Store at least three days of water specifically for your pets.
  • Medicines and Medical Records- Keep an extra supply of medicines your pet takes in a waterproof container. Place copies of your pet's registration information, adoption papers, vaccination documents and medical records in a clean plastic bag or waterproof container
  • First Aid Kit – Include cotton bandage rolls, bandage tape, scissors, antibiotic ointment, flea and tick prevention, latex gloves, Isopropyl alcohol and saline solution.
  • Collar with ID Tag, Harness or Leash – Your pet should wear a collar with its rabies tag and identification at all times. Include a backup leash, collar and ID tag in your pet's emergency supply kit. Consider permanent identification such as microchipping in case your pet gets lost.
  • Pet carrier – If you need to evacuate in an emergency situation, take your pets and animals with you, provided that it is practical to do so. Have a sturdy, safe, comfortable crate or carrier ready for transporting your pet.
  • Sanitation – Include pet litter and litter box if appropriate, newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and household chlorine bleach to provide for your pet's sanitation needs. You can use bleach as a disinfectant (dilute nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to purify water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented or color safe bleaches, or those with added cleaners.
  • A Picture of You and Your Pet Together- If you become separated from your pet during an emergency, a picture of you and your pet together will help you document ownership and allow others to assist you in identifying your pet. Include detailed information about species, breed, age, sex, color and distinguishing characteristics.
  • Familiar Items- Put favorite toys, treats or bedding in your kit. Familiar items can help reduce stress for your pet.

Create an Evacuation Plan:

  • Plan how you will gather your pets and have a plan for where you will go during an emergency. If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if practical. If you go to a public shelter, keep in mind your animals may not be allowed inside. Secure appropriate lodging in advance depending on the number and type of animals in your care.
  • Find pet friendly hotels along your evacuation route.

Develop a "Buddy System":

  • Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Talk with your pet care buddy about your evacuation plans and show them where you keep your pet's emergency supply kit. Also designate specific locations, one in your neighborhood and another farther away, where you will meet in an emergency.

Gather Contact Information for Emergency Animal Treatment:

  • Make a list of contact information and addresses of area animal control agencies including the Humane Society, SPCA, and emergency veterinary hospitals. Keep one copy of these phone numbers with you and one in your pet's emergency supply kit. Obtain "Pets Inside" stickers and place them on your doors or windows, including information on the number and types of pets in your home to alert firefighters and rescue workers. Consider putting a phone number on the sticker where you could be reached in an emergency.