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Emergencies & Your Health

Planning ahead to protect ourselves in a disaster, including people who are medically vulnerable.

Make Sure Emergency Responders Have the Information They Need to Help

In a serious emergency, you may not be able to communicate with First Responders or EMTs. Be sure to put essential details someplace that is easy to find - maybe on the back of the front door to your home, in a car's glove box, in a bug-out bag; or in a pocket.

What's essential? Here's one list:

  • your name(s) and cell phone number - include people who are staying with you (family members, roommates, visitors).
  • home address, car license plate number.
  • phone numbers for people to contact in an emergency, including at least 1 person out of the area. Some people enter this person in their phone contacts as ICE ("in case of emergency"). Others include this person with the emergency information in the accessible section of their smartphone (see below).
  • prescription and over the counter medications (include dosage per day).
  • medical conditions you have, including what you're allergic to (if anything).
  • contact for your doctor or healthcare provider, along with insurance number or patient ID number.

Most smartphones also allow you to enter your emergency information in a section that can be accessed by first responders, without getting into your other personal information. It's a good idea to do that, in addition to having this information also on paper (paper doesn't need batteries to be read).

Listos California offers pre-made Disaster Ready Cards:

Think Ahead to Get Prepared

Listos California breaks down getting prepared into 5 easy steps, and has interactive online videos to help us get started.

READY - people at an emergency preparedness table

In any type of emergency we may be asked to evacuate if it could be too dangerous to stay in place. See the page for If you have to evacuate for how to plan for that possibility.

Expect electrical power to go out in any disaster. advises:

  • Take an inventory of the items you need that rely on electricity.
  • Plan for batteries and other alternative power sources to meet your needs when the power goes out, such as a portable charger or power bank.
  • Have flashlights for every household member.
  • Determine whether your home phone will work in a power outage and how long battery backup will last.

Also check the storage needs for necessary, medications, and consider alternate or back-up power for necessary medical devices.

You'll find more about dealing with multi-day power outages on this page.

A "shelter in place" order means that people are asked to stay indoors where they are (usually at home). Depending on the emergency, electrical power may go out, or it might stay on; ditto water supply.

A shelter-in-place kit is similar to a survival kit (see the page in this guide for If you have to evacuate) but it assumes that people will have supplies at home. It is a good idea to have on hand:  

  • canned or ready-to-eat food (meals and snacks);
  • extra blankets or warm clothes for low temperatures;
  • extra water and sanitation supplies;
  • extra batteries and/or solar device chargers;
  • battery-powered lights and radio;
  • sufficient medical supplies for a week (medications, back-up power for medical devices, etc.);
  • first-aid kit.

Don't forget your service animals, pets, and other animals!

They'll need food, water, and shelter (crates or animal carriers) if they need to be moved away from home.

Stay Up to Date

Ideally, preparing for emergencies isn't something we do only once. It's important for emergency supplies to be regularly updated (batteries are fresh, food is still good) and that our information is current.

emergency preparedness kit

This calendar of monthly activities can make it easier to keep emergency supplies and preparedness skills up to date:

The text on this page is copyright PlaneTree Health Library, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Linked contents are the responsibility of their creators or copyright holders.