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Emergency Preparedness

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Family Emergency and Disaster Planning

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. Are you prepared with the knowledge of what to do if basic services-water, gas, electricity or telephones-were cut off? Families can-and do-cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Prepare yourself and your family by creating a disaster plan. A well prepared family plan should address the following:

  • Emergency Supplies.
  • Family Communications and Escape Routes.
  • Utility shut-off and safety.
  • Insurance and vital records.
  • Safety Skills

Emergency Supplies

Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as back-packs, duffle bags, or covered trash containers.


  • A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
  • One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
  • A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
  • Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
  • An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
  • Sanitation supplies.
  • Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
  • An extra pair of glasses.
  • Keep important family documents in a fire safe and waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.

Family Communications and Escape Routes

  • In the event of a disaster, your family may not be together. It’s important to plan how you will contact one another.
  • Complete a contact card for each family member, and have them handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. (Right is a sample contact card)
  • Have one or two escape routes planned for every room of your home, as well as established meeting places in store near the home or immediately outside the area.


  • Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main, and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
  • Remember; turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
  • Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.

Insurance and Vital Records

Review existing property, health, and life insurance policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is what is required for you and your family for all possible hazards.

Inventory Home Possessions

Store Important Documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box away from your home. Or a fire safe container in a well accessible place. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit.

Safety Skills

Learn First Aid and CPR
Take a first aid and CPR class. Local American Red Cross chapters can provide information about this type of training. Official certification by the American Red Cross provides, under the “good Samaritan” law, protection for those giving first aid.

Learn How to Use a Fire Extinguisher
Be sure everyone knows how to use your fire extinguisher(s) and where it is kept.

If Disaster Strikes…

Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.

Check for injuries

Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.

Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions

Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes

Check for Damage in Your Home...

  • Use flashlights. Do not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
  • Investigate for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
  • Shut off any other damaged utilities. (You will need a professional to turn gas back on.)
  • Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline, and other flammable liquids immediately.

Remember to...

  • Confine or secure your pets.
  • Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
  • Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
  • Stay away from downed power lines.

For more information on Disaster and Emergency Preparedness; please call Visalia Fire Department at (559) 713-4266.

Or the local Tulare-Kings Chapter of the American Red Cross at (559) 732-6436.

Click on the following items for further information about being prepared for disaster:

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