Preparing for Disasters

Taking these basic steps can help you recover from a disaster quicker.


Many of the steps that can help you and your family be better prepared for a disaster are free or low-cost. Most can be completed in a few hours, and some more quickly. Here are some of the most essential ways to prepare.

Gather and store important documents in one place

It is important to have immediate access to identification, documents you need to apply for federal assistance, file claims with your insurance company, and get prescriptions filled. Store these documents in a waterproof/fireproof container as well as off the floor to protect the files. Make sure everyone who needs access knows where the documents are located.

Build a disaster kit

Power outages, closed roads, and other circumstances could force you to hunker down in your home for days following a disaster. The kit should be stocked with the non-perishable food, water, and supplies you need for at least three days.

Some disasters may force you to leave your home for an alternative shelter and you may not have a lot of advance notice. This kit should include vital items for yourself and your family that you can grab on short notice. Make sure other people in your home know where this kit is located. Always remember to take important documents wherever you go.

Make a plan

Preparation can decrease stress and help ensure you do not forget something.

  • Look up your local news or local emergency management agency website to learn about shelters and evacuation routes. Keep a written record of routes and shelters with your important documents. However, continue to listen to the local radio or news for updates; routes and shelters can change.
  • Look up specific details for each shelter if you need specific accommodations including pets and access and functional needs. While they should accommodate individuals with disabilities and/or pets, not all shelters do so.
  • Be aware of upcoming deadlines for submitting insurance claims.
  • Complete a family emergency plan so everyone in your home will know who to call and where to meet if you are separated in an emergency.

Stay informed

Listen to your local news for updates. Also download FEMA’s mobile app, which provides real-time weather alerts you can share via text, email, and social media. The FEMA’s mobile app also provides information on open shelters and Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Recovery Centers (DRC) in your area


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