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Emergency Preparedness USA







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Emergency & Preparedness UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

Be prepared with some supplies:

If disaster strikes your community, you might not have access to food, water, or electricity for some time. By taking time now to prepare emergency water supplies, food supplies and disaster supplies kit, you can provide for your entire family.

Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supplies for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long.

You may not need to go out and buy foods to prepare an emergency food supply. You can use the canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves.

Having an ample supply of clean water is a top priority in an emergency. A normally active person needs to drink at least 2 quarts (a half gallon) of water each day. You will also need water for food preparation and hygiene. Store at least an additional half-gallon per person, per day for this.

Store at least a 3-day supply and consider storing a two-week supply of water for each member of your family. If you are unable to store this much, store as much as you can. You can reduce the amount of water your body needs by reducing activity and staying cool.

And don't forget to take your pets and service animals into account!

disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that could be needed in the event of a disaster.

Assemble the following items to create kits for use at home, the office, at school and/or in a vehicle:

Water - three gallons for each person who would use the kit and an additional four gallons per person or pet for use if you are confined to your home

Food - a three-day supply in the kit and at least an additional four-day supply per person or pet for use at home You may want to consider stocking a two-week supply of food and water in your home.

Items for infants - including formula, diapers, bottles, pacifiers, powdered milk and medications not requiring refrigeration

Items for seniors, disabled persons or anyone with serious allergies - including special foods, denture items, extra eyeglasses, hearing aid batteries, prescription and non-prescription medications that are regularly used, inhalers and other essential equipment.

Kitchen accessories - a manual can opener; mess kits or disposable cups, plates and utensils; utility knife; sugar and salt; aluminum foil and plastic wrap; re-sealable plastic bags

A portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra, fresh batteries

Several flashlights and extra, fresh batteries

A first aid kit

One complete change of clothing and footwear for each person - including sturdy work shoes or boots, raingear and other items adjusted for the season, such as hats and gloves, thermal underwear, sunglasses, dust masks

Blankets or a sleeping bag for each person

Sanitation and hygiene items - shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, toothbrushes, comb and brush, lip balm, sunscreen, contact lenses and supplies and any medications regularly used, toilet paper, towelettes, soap, hand sanitizer, liquid detergent, feminine supplies, plastic garbage bags (heavy-duty) and ties (for personal sanitation uses), medium-sized plastic bucket with tight lid, disinfectant, household chlorine bleach

Other essential items - paper, pencil, needles, thread, small A-B-C-type fire extinguisher, medicine dropper, whistle, emergency preparedness manual

Entertainment - including games and books, favorite dolls and stuffed animals for small children

A map of the area marked with places you could go and their telephone numbers

An extra set of keys and ids - including keys for cars and any properties owned and copies of driver's licenses, passports and work identification badges

Cash and coins and copies of credit cards

Copies of medical prescriptions

Matches in a waterproof container

A small tent, compass and shovel

Pack the items in easy-to-carry containers, label the containers clearly and store them where they would be easily accessible. Duffle bags, backpacks, and covered trash receptacles are good candidates for containers. In a disaster situation, you may need access to your disaster supplies kit quickly - whether you are sheltering at home or evacuating. Following a disaster, having the right supplies can help your household endure home confinement or evacuation.

Make sure the needs of everyone who would use the kit are covered, including infants, seniors and pets. It's good to involve whoever is going to use the kit, including children, in assembling it.

Benefits of Involving Children

Involving children is the first step in helping them know what to do in an emergency.

Children can help. Ask them to think of items that they would like to include in a disaster supplies kit, such as books or games or nonperishable food items, and to help the household remember to keep the kits updated. Children could make calendars and mark the dates for checking emergency supplies, rotating the emergency food and water or replacing it every six months and replacing batteries as necessary. Children can enjoy preparing plans and disaster kits for pets and other animals.

Disaster Supplies Kit Checklist for Pets

Food and water for at least three days for each pet, food and water bowls and a manual can opener

Depending on the pet, litter and litter box or newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags, grooming items, and household bleach

Medications and medical records stored in a waterproof container, a first aid kit and a pet first aid book

Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely and to ensure that your pets cannot escape. A carrier should be large enough for the animal to stand comfortably, turn around, and lie down. Your pet may have to stay in the carrier for hours. Be sure to have a secure cage with no loose objects inside it to accommodate smaller pets. These may require blankets or towels for bedding and warmth and other special items

Pet toys and the pet's bed, if you can easily take it, to reduce stress

Current photos and descriptions of your pets to help others identify them in case you and your pets become separated, and to prove that they are yours

Information on feeding schedules, medical conditions, behavior problems and the name and telephone number of your veterinarian in case you have to board your pets or place them in foster care.

Additional Supplies for Sheltering-in-Place

In the unlikely event that chemical or radiological hazards cause officials to advise people in a specific area to "shelter-in-place" in a sealed room, households should have in the room they have selected for this purpose:

A roll of duct tape and scissors

Plastic sheeting pre-cut to fit shelter-in-place room openings

Ten square feet of floor space per person will provide sufficient air to prevent carbon dioxide buildup for up to five hours. Local officials are unlikely to recommend the public shelter in a sealed room for more than two-three hours because the effectiveness of such sheltering diminishes with time as the contaminated outside air gradually seeps into the shelter.

Develop a Family Disaster Plan

Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Create a family disaster plan including a communication plan, disaster supplies kit, and an evacuation plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

Find out what could happen to you

Make a disaster plan

Complete the checklist

Practice your plan

Find out what could happen to you

Contact your American Red Cross chapter or local emergency management office — be prepared to take notes:

Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.

Learn about your community’s warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.

Ask about animal care after disaster. Animals other than service animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters.

Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.

Next, find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center, and other places where your family spends time.

Create a disaster plan


Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.

Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.

Pick two places to meet:

Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.

Outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.

Safe and Well Website


Following the 2005 hurricane season, the Red Cross developed the Safe and Well website, which enables people within a disaster area to let their friends and loved ones outside of the affected region know of their well-being. By logging onto the Red Cross public website, a person affected by disaster may post messages indicating that they are safe and well at a shelter, hotel, or at home, and that they will contact their friends and family as soon as possible. During large-scale disasters, there will be telephone-based assistance via the 1-866-GET-INFO hotline for people who live within the affected areas and do not have Internet access, but wish to register on the Safe and Well website.

People who are concerned about family members in an affected area may also access the Safe and Well website to view these messages. They will be required to enter either the name and telephone number, or the name and complete address, of the person about whom they wish to get information. Red Cross chapters will provide telephone-based assistance to local callers who do not have Internet access and wish to search the Safe and Well website for information about a loved one.

Be assured that the information on the Safe and Well website is secure and that information about the locations where people are staying is not published. Privacy laws require the Red Cross to protect each person's right to determine how best to communicate their contact information and whereabouts to family members. The Red Cross does not actively trace or attempt to locate individuals registered on the Safe and Well website.

Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact”. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact’s phone number.

Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Families should develop different methods for communicating during emergency situations and share their plans beforehand with all those who would be worried about their welfare. Options for remaining in contact with family and friends if a disaster strikes include:

Phone contact with a designated family member or friend who is unlikely to be affected by the same disaster.

Email notification via a family distribution list.

Registration on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Website.

Use of the toll-free Contact Loved Ones voice messaging service (1-866-78-CONTACT).

Use of the US Postal Service change of address forms when it becomes necessary to leave home for an extended period of time, thus ensuring that mail will be redirected to a current address.

Complete this checklist


Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).

Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.

Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.

Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.

Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches.

Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.

Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher, and show them where it’s kept.

Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.

Conduct a home hazard hunt.

Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supplies kit.

Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.

Practice your plan

Test your smoke detectors monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year.

Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.

Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.

Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.

Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions.

NOTE: Always keep a shut-off valve wrench near the gas and water shut-off valves in your home.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Red Cross have teamed up to answer common questions and provide step by step guidance you can take now to protect you and your loved ones.

Chemical Emergencies: Facts About Sheltering in Place

How to find temporary shelter in a chemical emergency

Chemical Emergencies: Facts About Evacuation

Knowing when & how to evacuate an area in a chemical emergency

Chemical Emergencies: Facts About Personal Cleaning & Disposal of Contaminated Clothing

What to do if you come in physical contact with dangerous chemicals

Radiation Emergencies: Sheltering in Place

How to find temporary shelter in a radiation emergency

Preparedness for Businesses

Emergency Preparedness for Business

Instructions to building occupants, actions to be taken by facility management, & first responder notification procedures. From the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH)

Guidance for Protecting Building Environments from Airborne Chemical, Biological, or Radiological Attacks

May 2002. From the National Institute for Occupational Safety & Health, CDC

Preparedness for Healthcare Facilities

Adapting Standards of Care under Extreme Conditions: Guidance for Professionals During Disasters, Pandemics, and Other Extreme Emergencies

This policy paper can be used a basis for protocol development and refinement, especially in regard to ethics and standards that apply to decisions about care made during unusual or extreme circumstances such as those resulting from emergencies, disasters, or pandemics. Prepared for the American Nurses Association by the Center for Health Policy, Columbia University School of Nursing.

Bioterrorism Readiness Plan: A Template for Healthcare Facilities (1.5 MB/34 pages)

Hospital Preparedness for Mass Causalities

Provided by the Advancing Health in America Policy Forum.

OSHA Best Practices for Hospital-Based First Receivers of Victims

Information to assist hospitals in developing & implementing emergency management plans for protecting hospital-based emergency department personnel during the receipt of contaminated victims from mass casualty incidents occurring at locations other than the hospital. Provided by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

MMWR QuickStats: Percentage of Hospitals with Staff Members Trained to Respond to Selected Terrorism-Related Diseases or Exposures

National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, United States, 2003--2004
MMWR 2007 Apr 27;56(16):401.

State & Local Preparedness

Public Health Preparedness: Mobilizing State by State

Inaugural CDC report on public health emergency preparedness. Provided by the CDC Coordinating Office for Terrorism Preparedness and Emergency Response (COTPER).

Public Health Emergency Response Guide for State, Local, & Tribal Public Health Directors

All-hazards reference tool for health professionals who are responsible for initiating the public health response during the first 24 hours (i.e., the acute phase) of an emergency or disaster.

The Centers for Public Health Preparedness Program

Cooperative Agreement Guidance for Public Health Emergency Preparedness

Guidance for CDC emergency preparedness funding for states. CDC has announced the availability of FY 2008 funding for continuation of the cooperative agreements to upgrade state & local public health jurisdictions’ preparedness for & response to bioterrorism, other outbreaks of infectious disease, & other public health threats & emergencies.

CDC Support for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC)

Information about EMAC, the interstate mutual aid agreement that provides a mechanism for sharing personnel, resources, equipment & assets among states during emergencies & disasters.

Comprehensive Preparedness Guide 301: Interim Emergency Management Planning for Special Needs Populations

(300 KB/80 pages) 
Provides scalable recommendations for planning for special needs populations.

MMWR: Brief Report: Terrorism & Emergency Preparedness in State & Territorial Public Health Departments — United States, 2004

MMWR 2005 May 13;54(18):459-460.
 (239 KB/24 pages)

MMWR: Assessment of Epidemiologic Capacity in State & Territorial Health Departments — United States, 2004

MMWR 2005 May 13;54(18):457-459.
 (239 KB/24 pages)

MMWR: Improvement in Local Public Health Preparedness & Response Capacity — Kansas, 2002–2003

MMWR 2005 May 13;54(18):461-462.
 (239 KB/24 pages)

Guidance on Initial Responses to a Suspicious Letter/Container With a Potential Biological Threat

(241 KB/6 pages)
Guidelines for local responders, based on existing procedures, on the initial response to letters, packages, or containers containing suspicious powders, liquids, or other materials. Developed by HHS/CDC, FBI, & DHS.

Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI)

Pilot program to aid cities in increasing their capacity to deliver medicines and medical supplies during a large-scale public health emergency

Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness

Planning guide to help state, county, & local officials meet federal requirements to prepare for public health emergencies. Outlines five components of mass prophylaxis response to epidemic outbreaks. Addresses dispensing operations using a comprehensive operational structure for Dispensing/Vaccination Centers (DVCs) based on the National Incident Management System (NIMS). (Developed by Weill Medical College of Cornell University for the Agency of Healthcare Research & Quality [AHRQ].)

National Preparedness

CDC Influenza Pandemic Operation Plan (OPLAN)

Strategic National Stockpile

National repository of pharmaceuticals & medical supplies.

Epi-X: The Epidemic Information Exchange

Secure, Web-based communications network connecting CDC with state & local health departments, poison control centers, & other public health professionals.

MMWR: Biological & Chemical Terrorism: Strategic Plan for Preparedness & Response

Recommendations of the CDC Strategic Planning Workgroup.
MMWR Recommendations & Reports 2000 Apr 21;49(RR-4);1-14.
 (204 KB/26 pages)

Emergency & Environmental Health Services

From the National Center for Environmental Health. Description of NCEH involvement in providing national & international leadership for the coordination, delivery, & evaluation of emergency & environmental health services.

National Advisory Committee on Children & Terrorism (NACCT)

CDC Plane Decreases Response Time, Increases Readiness

Legal Preparedness

Regulations to control communicable diseases

42 U.S.C. 264 (From United States Code Annotated; Title 42; The Public Health & Welfare; Chapter 6a--Public Health Service; Subchapter Ii--General Powers & Duties.; Part G--Quarantine & Inspection).

Interstate Quarantine

From United States Code Annotated; Title 42; The Public Health & Welfare; Part 70. On U.S. Government Printing Office site.

Foreign Quarantine

From United States Code Annotated; Title 42; The Public Health & Welfare; Part 71. On U.S. Government Printing Office site.

EID Journal: Collaboration Between Public Health & Law Enforcement: The Constitutional Challenge

Emerging Infectious Diseases 2002 Oct;8(10):1157-1159.

Contacts for Preparation & Planning

Bioterrorism Preparedness & Response Program

Program questions: 404-639-0385

Emergency Preparedness & Response Branch

Provided by the National Center for Environmental Health.

Health Agency Locator (HAL)


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