NYS Prepare

4 Steps to Preparedness

Step 1: Make a Plan

Steps to take to create a household emergency plan include the following:

  • Meet with your family members and discuss the dangers of possible emergency events including fire, severe weather, hazardous spills, and terrorism.
  • Discuss how you and your family will respond to each possible emergency. Know how to contact all family members at all times. Think 24/7 and 365.
  • Discuss what to do in case of power outages or personal injuries
  • Draw a floor plan of your home. If possible, mark two escape routes from each room.
  • Select two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency such as fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home (a real possibility during the day when most adults are at work and children are at school).
  • Identify an out-of-town friend or relative as your "emergency family check-in contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated. Make sure all family members have the correct phone number. It is often easier to call out-of-town during an emergency than within the affected area.
  • Post emergency contact numbers near all telephones. Include local police, fire and health departments, poison control, your children's schools, doctors, child/senior care providers and insurance agents.
  • Make sure everyone knows how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency medical services phone number.
  • Install safety features in your home such as smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • emergency supplies
  • Inspect your home for potential hazards - and correct them.
  • Have your family learn basic safety and first aid measures.
  • Keep family records in a waterproof and fireproof safe.
  • Have emergency supplies on hand.
  • Teach adults how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at main switches. If for any reason you do turn off natural gas service to your home, call your natural gas utility to restore service. DO NOT attempt to restore gas service yourself.
  • Make arrangements for your pets. Most shelters do not allow pets. Prior to an emergency, contact your county or local emergency management office and ask them where you could leave your pet. Have ID, collar, leash and proof of vaccination for all pets. Have current photos of your pets in case they get lost.
  • PRACTICE the Plan!

Step 2: Prepare an Emergency Kit

Often during an emergency, electricity, water, heat, air conditioning or telephone service may not work. All New Yorkers should have some basic supplies on hand in order for a family to survive if an emergency occurs. The emergency supply kit should be robust and contain enough food, water, medications and other consumables to last seven to ten days. Following is a list of basic items (based on a family of four to survive for seven to ten days) that every emergency supply kit should include.

Food and Water

  • Bottled water - one gallon per person per day, collapsible, sterile water container.
  • Ready-to-eat canned foods - vegetables, fruits, beans, meat, fish, poultry, pasta, soup, juice.
  • Milk - powdered, canned or shelf-stable brick pack.
  • High energy foods - peanut butter, jelly, nuts, dried meat (for example, jerky), granola, trail mix, energy bars.
  • Staples - sugar, salt, pepper, instant coffee, tea bags, cocoa.
  • Candy - chocolate bars, hard candy.
  • Infant and small children's needs - baby food, formula, disposable diapers.
  • Specialty food - for elderly or people on special diets.
  • Pet food (if needed).

Health and Hygiene Supplies

  • Prescription medication - at least one week's supply.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Pre-moistened hand wipes - pre-moistened baby wipes.
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Toiletries - toothpaste, deodorant.
  • Feminine hygiene supplies.
  • A list of family physicians, important medical information, and the style and serial number of medical devices such as pacemakers.

Personal Supplies

  • A change of clothing, rain gear and sturdy shoes for each family member. Sleeping bags, bedding or blankets for each family member.
  • An extra pair of glasses or contact lenses and solution (be sure to check expiration dates).
  • Document Holder with identification, credit cards/traveler's checks/cash, and photocopies of important family documents including home insurance information.

Household Supplies and Equipment

  • One gallon liquid chlorine bleach.
  • Battery-powered radio or TV.
  • Flashlights - one for each room of the house.
  • Lantern LED
  • Glow sticks
  • Extra fresh batteries for radio, TV, lantern and flashlights.
  • Whistle
  • Gasoline (if you plan to use a generator outdoors).
  • Propane fuel (if you plan to use a grill or camp stove outdoors).
  • Charcoal (if you plan to use a barbecue grill outdoors).
  • Disposable tableware, including paper towels and napkins.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Plastic bags - zip sealing, garbage.
  • Fire extinguisher (small canister A-B-C type).
  • Food thermometer - able to measure temperature from 0 to 220 degrees Fahrenheit.


  • Rope (for rescue, tow, tying down property)
  • Shovel
  • Hammer and nails
  • Multi-Tool with pliers
  • 4 in 1 Emergency Tool (with gas and water shut off)
  • Reflective Vests
  • Work gloves
  • Eye Goggles
  • Utility Tape
  • Electrical tape
  • Clean-up supplies
  • Broom
  • Buckets (5 gal min, with lids)
  • N-95 particulate masks
  • Disinfecting spray
  • Mop
  • Paper towels
  • Rags (to clean with)
  • Rubber gloves
  • Scrub brush
  • Sponges
  • Garbage bags with ties

Emergency First Aid Kit

Have these supplies on hand: First aid manual, assortment of sterile gauze pads and adhesive bandages, medical tape, ace bandage, CPR mask, Quik Clot, over-the-counter drugs (aspirin, antidiarrheal medications, and activated charcoal), antiseptic ointment, soap, nitrile gloves, SAM splint, oropharyngeal airways set, thermometer, tweezers and needles, and tongue depressors.

For More Information

Step 3: Be Aware

It is important to be aware of what hazards, natural or man-made, may impact your community. New Yorkers have many ways to be aware and stay informed of what is happening in their community. Knowing what to do before, during and after an emergency is a critical part of being prepared and may make all the difference when seconds count.


ny-alertIn addition to getting emergency information and updates through radio and television news, you can sign up for NY-ALERT to receive emergency information via the web, cell phone, email, and other technologies.

It is also important to be able to recognize and report suspicious activity. New York State promotes the "See Something, Say Something" campaign and the State's Terrorism Tip Line (1-866-SAFE-NYS - 1-866-723-3697). Information is also provided on the eight signs of terrorism (listed below).

See Send NY

You can now also "See Something, Send Something", which allows anyone to capture suspicious activity as a photo or written note, and send the information to the New York State Intelligence Center. From there, the tip will be reviewed and if relevant, sent to the appropriate law enforcement agency. The application, which can be downloaded for free for iPhone and Android phone users, can be downloaded at www.NY.gov/SeeSendNY.

Learn how to spot suspicious activity

We have the opportunity to identify individuals with malicious intentions before they are able to cause damage. While preparing for an attack they may conduct themselves in ways that do not match the usual pattern of activity found within our daily lives, which makes them stand out from others. Know the routines of your community, always remain alert and aware of what is going on around you, and take what you hear seriously. Share this important information with your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers. Learn the 8 signs of terrorism.

Know how to describe suspicious behavior

The more accurately you can describe the behavior you observed, the more useful you will be to the authorities reviewing the suspicious activity or incident. Learn how to accurately describe suspicious behavior

If you observe suspicious activity, always remember these important tips:

  • DO NOT take direct action
  • DO NOT confront the individual
  • DO NOT reveal your suspicions
  • DO record as many details as possible
  • DO notify the appropriate authorities as soon as possible

Active Shooter/Active Violence

It is also important to know what to do when faced with an Active Shooter/Active Violence situation. Because active shooter situations are often over within 10 to 15 minutes, sometimes before law enforcement arrives, individuals must be prepared both mentally and physically to deal with an active shooter situation. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has produced an instructional video designed to educate the public on what to do in the event of an active shooter situation.

Step 4: Get Involved

Here's what you can do to help your community recover from all kinds of emergencies.

Become A Volunteer

It is best to affiliate with a recognized disaster volunteer organization such as the American Red Cross, New York Cares or the Salvation Army before a disaster happens.  Getting involved with a disaster volunteer organization before an emergency will increase your ability to help when it is needed.

After a disaster, before going directly to volunteer at a relief organization, hospital or a disaster site, wait for instructions from local officials or check with specific organizations.

Be patient.  After a disaster, many people often wish to volunteer. There may be a greater need for volunteers weeks and months after disaster strikes.

Please visit the NYS Commission on National and Community Service to find volunteer opportunities near you!