Emergency Preparedness

Disasters can strike at any time. Is your family prepared?

Emergency Preparedness

We cannot control the weather or prevent disasters from happening, but you can take steps to minimize risks. This web page will help you make a plan, build a kit and get informed. Here's what you and your family can do:



1) Make a family disaster plan

RON plan thumbEmergency Plan Form in PDF
Your family may not be together when they happen, so it is important to plan for a disaster in advance. All families are different, so make a plan that fits your family. Each family member needs to understand the plan and know which tasks they will be asked to do. Sit down together and decide how you will get in touch with each other, where you will go and what you will do in different emergency situations.

This form requires the free Adobe Acrobat Reader to open and print. The Acrobat Reader allow you to fill out and save the form on your computer. This is a resource from the DSHS Ready or Not? campaign.

Here are some other things to consider when making your plan:

Escape routes:
You need to know escape routes from each room in your house as well as from your neighborhood.

Draw up a floor plan. Each room should have two exits. Choose a place where everyone will gather after they've left the house. Be sure to practice drills with to make sure it works for everyone.

For neighborhood escape routes, draw a map that shows all the streets names so if authorities give evacuation instructions, you will know where to go.

Family communication:
It's important to plan how everyone will contact each other if you get separated in an emergency. Complete a contact card for each family member listing the phone number of an out-of-town contact and other important numbers. Everyone should keep a card in a wallet, purse or backpack.

Communication with emergency staff:
If you get hurt because of an accident or disaster, you may be unable to speak with emergency medical technicians. In these cases, paramedics and other emergency responders l often look for a victim's cell phone for clues to their identity and emergency contacts.

You can make their job much easier by adding an entry in the contacts list of your cell phone: ICE. ICE stands for "In Case of Emergency." Add an entry, label it ICE, and enter the name and phone number of the person the emergency services should call for you. Doing this takes only a few moments, but it can save time so they can contact your loved ones quickly. Paramedics know what ICE means, and they look for it immediately.

Utility shut-off and safety:
For some types of disasters, you may need to disconnect utility services to your home. Natural gas leaks are the number one cause of fires after a disaster.

Be sure that responsible family members can turn off the gas, electricity and water supplies. Contact your local utility company for proper shut-off procedures and to find the location of shut-off valves and switches.

CAUTION! Never turn gas service back on by yourself. Service should be restored only by a trained professional.

2) Build a disaster kit

RON shopping list thumbEmergency Supply List in PDF

Being prepared involves more than just knowing what to do during an emergency. If you are forced to shelter in place or evacuate your home, you may not have time to gather all you need to keep your family safe and comfortable. Use this checklist to create a list of preparedness items you will need to survive. Build a kit now with enough supplies to take care of each family member for at least three days.

It's best to store your supplies in air-tight, portable containers but something as simple as plastic trash bags or a backpack will work. Be sure to check your kit regularly and replace items that expire such as batteries and food.

3) Get informed

Texas is prone to disasters of all kinds – from severe weather events to industrial accidents. Terrorism also is a threat. Find out what risks are common where you live. Might your community suffer a wildfire, drought, flood, tornado, ice storm or hurricane? What about hazardous materials incidents or other types of accidents?

When severe weather threatens, tune in to local radio, television or get information online from the National Weather Service about NOAA Weather Radio. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning. A watch means that dangerous weather is possible. A warning means it's about to happen; seek shelter now.

General Information, Guides, Checklists

  • Texas Division of Emergency Management
    The Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) coordinates the state emergency management program. TDEM ensures state and local governments respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters. They also implement plans and programs to help prevent or lessen the impact of disasters.

  • Prepare for Emergencies
    As public health emergencies arise in the United States, many people are concerned of recent hurricanes, tsunamis, acts of terrorism, and the threat of pandemic flu. The American Red Cross provides guidance on steps you can take now to protect you and your loved ones.

  • Ready America
    The U.S. Department of Homeland Security promotes individual emergency preparedness through the Ready Campaign and Citizen Corps. They work together to inform Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies like natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. They also have sections for older Americans, people with special needs, and pet owners.

Note: External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These sites may also not be accessible to people with disabilities.

Last updated October 10, 2016