September 6, 2018

“Don’t Wait. Communicate.” How to Plan Before Emergency Strikes

Are you prepared when the unexpected happens? Part of our personal wellness includes being prepared in the event of an emergency. As summer comes to a close and the kids are back in school, now is an ideal time to revisit or create your personal and/or family emergency plans.

The best time to put together an emergency plan and kit is before a disaster.

Why do I need a plan?

Knowing how you will respond to an emergency at home, school or work will help you remain calm and think more clearly during an emergency. It is important to plan ahead by talking about what you will do before, during and after an emergency. You and your family members may not be in the same place when an emergency happens, or you may live by yourself. Creating a shared understanding with your family and emergency contacts about who to contact and where to go can help you and your family when emergency strikes.

What should my plan include?

Your plan should include how you will get to a safe place, get in touch with and find each other during an emergency:

  • List of phone numbers of a preassigned contact person for family members to call and a location to meet
  • List of resources for where to find help – download mobile applications before an emergency, like the ReadyNC Mobile App, and browse a list of disaster-related mobile applications by the American Red Cross
  • How to be safe if you’re at home during an emergency
  • What to do with your pets
  • A list of your medications
  • Considerations for any older adults or persons with functional needs in the home
Being ready helps you and your family, but it also helps our first responders, fire fighters, police and emergency medical workers. Not sure where to start on your emergency plan? Use the Emergency Plan template on

Building an Emergency Kit

After an emergency, you may have more limited resources than what you’re used to. It’s better to be prepared by building an Emergency Kit for what you or your family may need during that time than potentially be without food or clean water. Make sure all of your family members and your emergency contacts know where your Emergency Kit is located!

Not sure what you need? has a Starter Emergency Kit Guide, as well as ideas for additional supplies you may need if you have children or pets in your home.

According to, a basic Emergency Kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon per day per person for three days for drinking and other needs
  • Food – at least a three-day supply of nonperishable foods
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Blankets – one per person
  • Personal hygiene items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, feminine supplies)
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA emergency weather radio with tone alert
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Important documents and papers
  • Dust mask to help filter air and plastic sheeting and duct tape for sheltering-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for general sanitation (if the water goes out – no toilets!)
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities – never attempt to turn your gas back on yourself; always ask your gas company to turn back on after an emergency
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Battery-operated cellphone charger
  • Cash and change

Remember to check expiration dates on supplies in your Emergency Kit each year. Add additional items to your kit as your needs change. Store your kit on-hand but in a separate location where you won’t be tempted to take from it for regular or daily use.

Don’t Wait. Communicate.

This year, the theme for National Preparedness Awareness Month is “Don’t wait. Communicate.” Have a game plan so that you are prepared for disasters or emergencies in your homes, businesses and communities. You and your loved ones’ health and safety depend on preparing before a disaster: is a great resource to help you prepare all aspects of your life for emergencies.