Prepare Your Family for Emergencies

Preparedness is the foundation for building resilient communities. While King County Emergency Management focuses on preparing our whole community for disasters, you also have a role to play in emergency preparedness. By planning ahead, you can increase your ability to survive and thrive in the face of disaster, everything from an earthquake to a major winter storm.


Are you ready in case of any emergency? Is your family, your loved ones, your neighbors?

The Bellevue Office of Emergency Management has assembled the resources below to provide you with all the information and tools you will need in the event of an earthquake, fire, flood or other natural disaster.

The four steps are: Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Prepare for Disasters and Teach Youth about Preparedness. Click on the dropdown arrows below to learn more.

Step 1: Make a Plan

Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the coronavirus.

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Step 1: Put a plan together by discussing the questions below with your family, friends or household to start your emergency plan.

1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
2. What is my shelter plan?
3. What is my evacuation route?
4. What is my family/household communication plan?
5. Do I need to update my emergency preparedness kit?
6. Check with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and update my emergency plans due to Coronavirus. Get masks (for everyone over 2 years old), disinfectants, and check my sheltering plan.

Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.

As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets or specific needs like operating medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:

- Different ages of members within your household
- 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 spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan

Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use it as a guide to create your own.

- Emergency Plan for Parents (PDF)

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household
Associated Content:

- Family Emergency Communication Guide (PDF)
- Family Communication Plan Fillable Card (PDF)
- Emergency Plan for Families
- Emergency Plan for Kids
- Emergency Plan for Commuters (PDF)
- Pet Owners (PDF)
- Family Emergency Communication Planning Document (PDF)
Family Emergency Communication Plan Wallet Cards (PDF)
Know Your Alerts and Warnings (PDF)
Protect Critical Documents and Valuables (PDF)
Document and Insure Your Property (PDF)
Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (PDF)
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Disaster Checklist (PDF)
Make a Plan (Video)

Also October is the Great Washington ShakeOut. It is a statewide opportunity to practice how to be safer during big earthquakes: "Drop, Cover and Hold On." The ShakeOut has also been organized to encourage you, your community, your school, or your organization to review and update emergency preparedness plans and supplies, and to secure your space in order to prevent damage and injuries.

Step 2: Build a Kit

After an emergency, you may need to survive on your own for several days. Being prepared means having your own food, water and other supplies to last for several days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency.

Make sure your emergency kit is stocked with the items on the checklist below. Most of the items are inexpensive and easy to find and any one of them could save your life. Headed to the store? Download a printable version to take with you. Once you take a look at the basic items consider what unique needs your family might have, such as supplies for pets or seniors.

Basic Disaster Supplies Kit

To assemble your kit store items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers such as plastic bins or a duffel bag.

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

- Water (one gallon 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
- Flashlight
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
- 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 and a backup battery
- Download the Recommended Supplies List (PDF)

Additional Emergency Supplies

Since Spring of 2020, the CDC has recommended people include additional items in their kits to help prevent the spread of coronavirus or other viruses and the flu.

Consider adding the following items to your emergency supply kit based on your individual needs:

- Masks (for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
- Prescription medications
- Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
- Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
- Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Cash or traveler's checks
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
- Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
- Paper and pencil

Maintaining Your Kit

After assembling your kit remember to maintain it so it’s ready when needed:

- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers.
- Replace expired items as needed.
- Re-think your needs every year and update your kit as your family’s needs change.

Kit Storage Locations

Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work and cars.

- Home: Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
- Work: Be prepared to shelter at work for at least 24 hours. Your work kit should include food, water and other necessities like medicines, as well as comfortable walking shoes, stored in a “grab and go” case.
- Car: In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car.

Step 3: Prepare for Disasters

This is the third of a four part series on emergency preparedness. We want to provide you with all the information and tools you will need in the event of an earthquake, fire, flood or other natural disaster.

The four steps are: Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Prepare for Disasters and Teach Youth about Preparedness.

Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area and check your insurance coverage. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards and act fast if you receive a local warning or alert.

Disasters and Emergencies

Hurricanes are dangerous and can cause major damage because of storm surge, wind damage, and flooding. They can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans. Storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States. Eastern Pacific hurricane season is from May 15 to November 30 and Atlantic hurricane season is from June 1 to November 30.

Know what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate. Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.

Click on the link to access the specific topic to get more information:

Disasters and Emergencies

- Emergency Alerts
- Active Shooter
- Attacks in Public Places
- Avalanche
- Bioterrorism
- Chemical Emergencies
- Cybersecurity
- Drought
- Earthquakes
- Explosions
- Extreme Heat
- Floods
- Hazardous Materials Incidents
- Home Fires
- Household Chemical Emergencies
- Hurricanes
- Landslides & Debris Flow
- Nuclear Explosion
- Nuclear Power Plants
- Pandemic
- Power Outages
- Radiological Dispersion Device
- Severe Weather
- Snowstorms & Extreme Cold
- Space Weather
- Thunderstorms & Lightning
- Tornadoes
- Tsunamis
- Volcanoes
- Wildfires
- Recovering from Disaster
- Make a Plan
- Get Involved
- Ready Business
- Ready Kids
- Resources

Step 4: Teach Youth About Preparedness

This is the fourth of a four part series on emergency preparedness. We want to provide you with all the information and tools you will need in the event of an earthquake, fire, flood or other natural disaster.

The four steps are: Make a Plan, Build a Kit, Prepare for Disasters and Teach Youth about Preparedness.

Talk to your kids about preparing for emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by providing information about how they can get involved.

Ready Kids

Disasters happen everywhere, and every member of the family can prepare. Preparedness for the future starts today.

Whether you’re a kid or teen yourself, a parent or loved one, or work with youth, Ready Kids has tools and information to help before, during and after disasters.

View all the available resources at

Be a Ready Kid

Emergencies and disasters can be scary, but there are ways to help you stay safe before, during, and even after a disaster. Here, you can play games to become a Disaster Master and learn how to build an emergency kit. You will even be able to make your own emergency plan with your family.

- Games: These games will test your know-how in a wide range of emergencies and teach you how to build the emergency kit. Play Disaster Master and Build a Kit online and order the Ready 2 Help card game today.
- Build a Kit: When making an emergency kit, it’s important to know what your family already has and what you still need. Sit down with your family and use this checklist to decide what else you need to make sure you and your family are prepared for any emergency.

Everybody Has a Role - Including Teens

Teenagers and other young people help their families, schools, and communities prepare for disasters. They can be leaders before, during, and after disasters. Whether you’re just starting to learn about preparedness, want to join or start a youth preparedness program, or are looking for materials to teach the next generation of preparedness leaders, you’ll find lots of options on this page to help you learn how to prepare for a disaster.

We all have a role to play in ensuring the safety of our communities. You, too, can make a difference!

- Teen Cert: Join or start a Teen Community Emergency Response Team (Teen CERT)
- Resources: Explore the Ready.Gov resource library for teens

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