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Family make plans for emergencies

National Preparedness Month

Don't Wait. Communicate. Make a family emergency plan today. 

Week one: September is recognized as National Preparedness Month

National Preparedness Month serves as a reminder that we all must take action to prepare, now and throughout the year, for the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit. “Don’t Wait, Communicate. Make Your Emergency Plan Today,” returns this September with a continuing emphasis on preparedness for youth, older adults, and people with disabilities and others with access and functional needs. Thank you for taking time help make America more prepared for emergencies.

Week two: Prepare family and friends 

Consider the following situations for your emergency plan so everyone will know what to do if you are not together. 
  • How to get emergency alerts and warnings 
  • How to get to safe locations for relevant emergencies
  • How to contact each other if cell phone, internet, or landline doesn’t work
  • How to let family and loved ones know if each other is safe
  • How to get to a meeting place after the emergency
Download the following templates to prepare and record your plan.

Get more information here.

Week three: Prepare through service

Individuals can make a difference in their own community. By participating in disaster preparedness activities, people can affect preparedness at the community level. Training is often provided for free.

Volunteer opportunities

More information about preparedness volunteer opportunities here

Week four: Prepare as an individual  

FEMA app features
Be informed about emergencies likely in your area: Sign up for local alerts, monitor the news and weather and download the FEMA App (at right). FEMA App features include:
  • Alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five locations
  • Safety reminders, tips to survive natural disasters and a customizable emergency checklist
  • Locations of open shelters and where to talk to FEMA in person (or on the phone)
  • Share disaster photos to help first responders
Make a plan based on your needs and situation. Households/individuals should consider and customize their plans for individual needs and responsibilities based on the methods of communication, types of shelter and methods of transportation available to them. Other factors to keep in mind include:
  • Different ages of family members
  • Responsibilities for assisting others
  • Locations frequented
  • Dietary needs
  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
  • Languages
  • Cultural and religious considerations
  • Pets or service animals

Get detailed preparedness information for individuals with special health and physical needs here.  

Build a kit or have supplies on hand that you’ll need to live independently for several days. A basic emergency kit should include the following recommended items:
Items in an emergency kit
  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Get more information about additional supplies, first aid supplies and supplies for special needs here.


Week five: Participate in America's PrepareAthon! on September 30

America's PrepareAthon! is a grassroots campaign for action to increase community preparedness and resilience. Join others around the country to practice your preparedness!

Ten things you can do to participate
  • Sign up for local alerts and warnings, download apps, and/or check access for wireless emergency alerts.
  • Create and test emergency communication plans.
  • Assemble or update emergency supplies.
  • Conduct a drill to practice emergency response actions for local hazards.
  • Participate in a preparedness discussion, training, or class.
  • Collect and safeguard critical documents.
  • Document property and obtain appropriate insurance for relevant hazards.
  • Make property improvements to reduce potential injury and property damage (mitigation).
  • Conduct an exercise of a disaster scenario to review and improve your emergency plan.
  • Plan with neighbors to help each other and share resources.

Get details for each of the ten items above. 

Learn more about America's PrepareAthon! here

Have you taken action? Tell others what you did to prepare for emergencies and how it made a difference using #PrepareAthon.


Please disregard information in this video about CERT training as it is outdated. For current information about CERT, visit the CERT webpage.