Create a Disaster Preparedness Plan

Will everyone in your household know what to do when an earthquake strikes or a tsunami warning is issued? Do you know how to get in touch with each other afterwards?

After the shaking stops or the waves recede


  • power, utilities, communication systems and roads may be knocked out
  • fires and chemical spills may occur
  • you may be separated from children, pets and other family members.

By planning now, you will be ready. Planning for earthquakes and tsunamis will also prepare you for other more frequent emergencies such as storms and flooding.

Plan NOW to be safe during an earthquake

  • Identify safe spots in every room, such as under sturdy desks and tables
  • Learn how to protect yourself no matter where you are when an earthquake strikes

Plan NOW to respond after an earthquake or tsunami

  • Keep shoes and a working flashlight next to each bed.
  • Get a fire extinguisher for your home and learn how to use it properly.
  • Teach everyone in your household to use emergency whistles and to knock three times repeatedly if trapped.
  • Identify family members or neighbors with special needs such as medications, special diets and wheel chairs.
  • Take a Red Cross First Aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) class or refresher course to keep your certification current.
  • Know the location of utility shut-offs and keep needed tools nearby. Only turn off the gas if you smell or hear leaking
    gas. Only the gas company can turn the gas back on.
  • Install smoke alarms and check them monthly. Change batteries once a year or whenever you hear a “chirping” sound.
  • Work with your neighbors to identify people who have skills and resources useful in an emergency.
  • Is a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) in your area? If not, find out how to start one.
  • Know the tsunami hazard zones in your community and how to get to safe areas.
  • Recognize the natural warning signs of a tsunami – strong ground shaking, water receding unusually far,and/or a loud roar from the ocean – and make sure everyone in your family nows to immediately evacuate if they are in a hazard zone.
  • Know how you may be notified if a tsunami warning is issued. Consider a NOAA Weather Radio with the Public Alert feature if you live or work in a tsunami hazard zone.
  • If a tsunami warning is issued get off the beach and tune in to your radio or television for further instructions on what to do.

Plan NOW to communicate and recover after an earthquake or tsunami

  • Select a safe place outside of your home to meet your family or housemates after the shaking stops.
  • Identify an out-of-the area contact person to call who can relay information to other friends and family.
  • Provide all family members with a current list of important contact telephone numbers.
  • Determine where you might stay if your home cannot be occupied after an earthquake or tsunami.
  • Ask about your children’s school or day care emergency response plans. Keep emergency release information current.
  • Make copies of important documents such as identification, deeds, insurance policies and financial records in a secure, waterproof container. Include a household inventory of your belongings.


Your plan should include:

  • How to be safe during an earthquake
  • How to respond after an earthquake or tsunami
  • How to communicate and recover

Special considerations

  • Be sure your plan includes what will happen to your children at school, day care or other activities. Talk to your children about the plan and include a copy in their backpack.
  • Are fragile, elderly or disabled part of your family? Realistically assess special needs for special equipment and medications.
  • Don’t forget your pets or livestock in your earthquake and tsunami plan