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Emergency Preparedness

 Get 72-Hour Ready

In a major emergency, it can often take several days before help is able to arrive. With a few simple steps, you can ensure your household is self-sufficient for three days, in the event of a disaster or other serious event. 

Have a Plan

Meet as a household, identify where to meet if your home is unsafe, and identify an out-of-area emergency contact.

Make a Kit

Have supplies for at least 72-hours on hand for you and your family (including pets).

Be Informed

Know how to protect your home and where to seek additional information for disaster preparedness.
Have a Plan

After a major disaster, it is unlikely that emergency response services will be able to immediately respond to everyone’s needs, so it’s important to be prepared to take care of yourself and your family.

Create a plan for the the first 72 hours (3 days).

The following steps will help you prepare for any emergency:

  • Talk with your family about potential disasters and why it's necessary to prepare for them. Involve each member of your family in the planning process. By showing them simple steps that can increase their safety, you can help reduce their anxiety about emergencies.
  • Create household go-kits with your entire family – children included! Teach children the importance of each item, so they are more comfortable if a disaster occurs.
  • Duplicate important documents and keep in a water safe slip in your emergency kit. Documents may include: passport, drivers license, social security card, wills, deeds, financial statements, insurance information, marriage license and prescriptions.
  • Inventory valuables, in writing and with photographs or video. Keep copies of this information saved on an electronic device or written down with your other important documents.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Try to identify two escape routes.
  • Practice your evacuation routes and Drop, Cover & Hold and Stop, Drop & Roll drills.
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.

Communication Tips

  • Select a friend or family member out of state to be an extra point of contact. Provide this person with the names and contact information of the people locally to keep informed of the situation. Long distance phone service is often restored sooner than local service.
  • Select a location to meet after a disaster if separated from family. Choose two places, one just outside your home and one outside your neighborhood in case you are told to evacuate.
  • Create In Case of Emergency (ICE) cards to store in your child's school backpack. Inform their teachers of the contact lists.
  • When planning, consider children, seniors, persons living with disabilities, persons with a primary language other than English.


Make a Kit

Store your household disaster kit in an easily accessible location. Put contents in a large, watertight container (for example, a large plastic garbage can with a lid and wheels, or a backpack) that you can move easily.

In any emergency, you or a family member may suffer injuries caused by the incident. Keep the following basic first aid supplies so you are prepared to help when someone is hurt.

First Aid kits are an inexpensive, simple purchase to keep in your home, car, school backpack. Kits can be bought completed, or simply make your own with the following items:

  • Two pairs of disposable gloves
  • Sterile dressings to stop bleeding
  • Cleansing agent/soap and antibiotic towelettes to disinfect
  • Antibiotic ointment to prevent infection
  • Burn ointment
  • Adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes
  • Eye wash solution to flush the eyes or as general decontaminant
  • Scissors
  • Over-the-counter medicines such as Aspirin or other pain reliever, laxative, anti-diarrhea medication
  • Prescription medications you take every day such as insulin, heart medicine, or asthma inhaler
  • Prescribed medical supplies such as glucose monitoring equipment or blood pressure monitors

When a disaster occurs, you might not have access to food, water and electricity for days, or even weeks. Store enough emergency food to provide for your family for at least 3 days.

  • Store food items that are familiar, rather than buying special emergency food. Consider any dietary restrictions and preferences you may have.
  • Ideal foods are: Shelf-stable (no refrigeration required), low in salt, and do not require cooking (e.g. canned fruit, vegetables, peanut butter, jam, low-salt crackers, cookies, cereals, nuts, dried fruit, canned soup or meats, juices and non-fat dry milk).

In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Store enough water for everyone in your family to last for at least 3 days.

  • Store one gallon of water, per person, per day. This amount will be adequate for general drinking purposes. Three gallons per person per day will give you enough to cook and for limited personal hygiene. Do not forget to plan for your pets!

Treating water after the disaster:

If you run out of stored drinking water, strain and treat water from your water heater or the toilet reservoir tank (except if you use toilet tank cleaners.) You cannot drink swimming pool or spa water, but you can use it for flushing toilets or washing.

'Drink Safe Water' Food Safety printable graphic

Water Safety Video
Be Informed

During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. However, there are simple steps you can take to make your home safer. Start by viewing each room with a “disaster eye” and identify potential hazards – bookshelves that could tip over in an earthquake and block exits or heavy objects that could fall and cause injury.

  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home and change batteries every 6 months.
  • Move beds away from windows.
  • Move mirrors and heavy pictures away from couches or places where people sit.
  • Clear hallways and exits for easy evacuation.
  • Store heavy items on the lowest shelves.
  • Keep an ABC type fire extinguishers on each level and know how and when to use them
  • Store flammable or highly reactive chemicals (such as bleach, ammonia, paint thinners) securely and separate from each other.
  • Secure pictures and wall hangings and use restraints to secure heavy items such as bookcases and file cabinets.
  • Know how and when to switch off your utilities.
  • Be sure your home number is visible from the street so emergency vehicles can find you.

Public Safety Power Shut Off (PSPS)

Due to recent wildfires, PG&E is taking additional measures to reduce the risk of severe wildfires. In the event of an extreme weather event, PG&E will turn off electricity for an extended period. 

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks can cause an explosive and flammable atmosphere inside a building. If you smell gas, hear gas escaping, see a broken gas line, or if you suspect leak, shut off the main valve and open all windows and doors.

  • Never use candles or matches if you suspect a leak.
  • Do not turn on electrical switches or appliances.
  • Identify the main shutoff valve, which is located on the gas line coming into the main gas meter. (This is usually on the exterior of your home or building, or in an external closet.)   
  • Your main valve may look like this:
  • To turn gas off, give the valve a quarter turn in either direction. when the lever crosses the direction of the pipe (see below) the gas is off.
  • Keep a crescent wrench or gas shut-off tool nearby to turn the lever.
  • Once you turn off the gas, never attempt to turn it back on yourself. wait for your utility company to do it, but be aware that it may take several days for it to be turned back on.              

Electricity Safety

  • Locate your home’s main electric switch, which is normally in the garage or outdoors, where the power lines enter the home. The panel box may have a flip switch or pull handle on a large circuit breaker.
  • Shut off electricity when:
    • Arcing or burning occurs in electrical devices.
    • There is a fire or significant water leak.
    • You smell burning insulation.
    • The area around switches or plugs is blackened and/or hot to the touch.
    • A complete power loss is accompanied by the smell of burning material.
  • Contact Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) if you have any questions.


Water leaks can cause property damage and create an electrocution hazard.

  • Shut off the water when there is a leak inside the building.
  • The water shutoff is usually located in the basement, garage, or where the water line enters the home. The water shutoff is located on a riser pipe and is usually a red or yellow wheel. Turn wheel clockwise to shut off.