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How to Prepare Your Family for Emergencies

Emergencies and natural disasters can be scary. But the more you know, the better you can deal with what comes your way—during and after. Be better prepared for an emergency by planning ahead with your family. The first steps include creating a family emergency communication and evacuation plan and an emergency supply kit. Tennessee leaders share emergency preparation tips in this video.

Call a Family Meeting and Make a Plan!
Emergencies can happen at any time. Do family members know how to get in touch with one another if you are not all in the same place? It's important to make a plan and discuss it with your family now so that you will know what to do, how to evacuate your home safely (in case of fire or flood), how to find one another and how to communicate.

Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan.

  • Download the Family Communication Plan (PDF) for Parents
  • Download the Family Communication Plan (PDF) for Kids

You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, day care, school, faith organizations, your car while commuting, and sports events.

Build a Basic Emergency Supply Kit

The contents of a well-stocked disaster kit vary depending on the needs of your household, but there are certain essentials for any kit. Before you consider adding comfort or convenience items, be sure you have these basics on hand:

  • Water – at least a gallon per person per day, for three to five days
  • Nonperishable food (such as dried fruit or peanut butter) – enough per person for three to five days
  • Pet supplies
  • Pet food and water
  • Baby supplies (formula, diapers)
  • Weather radio (battery-powered or hand-crank) and extra batteries
  • First-aid kit
  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Dust mask (to 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
  • Cellphone (with charger, inverter or solar charger)
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Toothbrush, toothpaste, soap
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils, paper towels
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Whistle (to call for help)
  • Can opener (manual)
  • Local maps
  • Extra batteries

Additional suggested emergency supplies can be found here.

Find out what to do before, during and after emergencies with help from the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA), which has created a Web page and a mobile app to help get you ready for a disaster.

On the ReadyTN Web page, you can learn about natural disasters, their causes, where they occur and how to stay safe. Typical disasters Tennesseans may face include fires, floods, severe storms, tornadoes and other threats.

Download the ReadyTN: Mobile Preparedness App to keep you informed during emergencies.

Benefits of the App

  • Find out about hazards in your community
  • Receive updates on weather and road conditions
  • Receive information about shelters and recovery operations during and after emergencies

Get the App

  • Download for Android phones and tablets on Google Play
  • Download for Apple iOS phones and tablets on iTunes

The app does not replace calling 911 for emergencies. Also, it should not be used as a substitute for a weather-alert radio during potentially life-threatening weather conditions, such as tornadoes. To learn more about the app, click here.

Learn More

Stay informed with the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency (TEMA).

Visit Ready.gov to:

  • Be informed. Learn more about what protective measures to take before, during and after an emergency
  • Help educate your kids through games. Help your children learn the facts about emergencies.