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Preparedness PDF Print E-mail

Are You Ready?


Preparedness is everyone's job.

Not just the government but all sectors of society -- service providers, businesses, civic and volunteer groups, neighborhood associations, as well as every individual citizen should plan ahead. During the first few hours or days following a disaster, essential services may not be available. People must be ready to support themselves and their families on their own.


The need to prepare is real.

  • Disasters disrupt hundreds of thousands of lives every year. Each disaster can have lasting effects, both to people, property, the economy, and the environment.

  • If a disaster occurs in your community, local government and disaster-relief organizations will try to help you, but you need to be ready as well. Local responders may not be able to reach you immediately, or they may need to focus their efforts elsewhere.

  • You should know how to respond to disasters that could occur in your area - severe weather, wildfire, flooding, or terrorism. (See link to your county's Emergency Management website on the Contacts Page for known hazards)

  • You should also be ready to be self-sufficient for at least three days. This may mean providing for your own shelter, first aid, food, water, and sanitation.


There are real benefits to being prepared.

  • People can reduce or avoid the impact of disasters (flood proofing, creating defensible space around your home to protect it from wildfire, and securing items that could shake loose in an earthquake).

  • It's also about peace of mind. Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters.


Disaster Response

Disaster response is built on shared responsibilities and active participation at all levels. Think of it as a pyramid with you, the citizen, forming the base of the structure. The whole system begins with you. At this level, you have a responsibility to protect yourself and your family by knowing what to do before, during, and after an event. Some examples of what you can do follow:



  • Learn about the hazards that threaten your area and how you will be warned. (See the links below to your county's Emergency Management website)

  • Develop plans on what to do for specific hazards, how you can reduce your risk, and how to communicate with your family. (See Family Communications Plan as well as Hazard Specific Planning: FEMA site)

  • Locate and learn how to operate household utilities.

  • Review your homeowner/renter's insurance policy. Purchase additional insurance (flood insurance, etc) that is not part of your policy, if necessary. Make sure your agent has an accurate value of your household items. Keep duplicate copies of important papers.

  • Assemble emergency kits. Optimally, you should have one for work, one in your car, and one at home. There should be enough supplies to last you and your family (including pets) for at least three days, as well as items you would need if you had to evacuate immediately. (Checklists of items to include in your disaster supplies kit are in the Materials section).

  • Acquire basic safety skills. Take some training classes on First Aid/CPR and other disaster response skills. (See Training Opportunities below.)



  • Follow the advice and guidance of local officials in charge of the event.

  • Remain calm.

  • Put your plan into action.

  • Help others.



  • Repair damaged property.

  • Help others.

  • Take steps to prevent or reduce future loss.

When a disaster strikes, local, state, and federal agencies may all play a role in assisting the public. The role each will play depends on the type and severity of the disaster. The local level is the second tier of the disaster pyramid, and is made up of paid employees and volunteers from the local private and public sectors. These individuals are often engaged in preventing emergencies from happening and in being prepared to respond if something does occur. Most emergencies are handled at this level, which puts a tremendous responsibility on the local community for taking care of its citizens. Some of the responsibilities of these local officials may include:


  • Identifying hazards and assessing potential risk to the community.

  • Enforcing building codes, zoning ordinances, and land-use management programs.

  • Coordinating emergency plans to ensure a quick and effective response.

  • Fighting fires and responding to hazardous materials incidents.

  • Maintaining law and order.

  • Establishing and activating warning systems.

  • Stocking emergency supplies and equipment.

  • Assessing damage and identifying needs.

  • Evacuating the community to safer locations.

  • Taking care of the injured.

  • Sheltering those who cannot remain in their homes.

  • Aiding recovery efforts.


The State, as the third tier of our disaster response pyramid, may take up to 72 hours to aid the local government requesting assistance. The fourth tier, the Federal Government, may take up to a week.  As you can see from the above list, it is incumbent upon citizens to help by preparing themselves and each other for emergencies.


Training Opportunities & Involvement

Citizens who are prepared and trained will be able to assist, if needed. For county-specific hazard information, questions, or to get involved with your local emergency responders contact your County Emergency Manager on the Contacts page.