Residential Emergency Preparedness

Natural disasters and severe weather events are often unpredictable. Learn how to protect yourself and loved ones by planning ahead.


Make an Emergency Plan:

Work as a team with your family and neighbors to solidify a plan that fits your needs.

  • Plan the quickest escape routes out of your home and neighborhood
  • Decide on a meeting place outside your home and neighborhood
  • Consider limitations with family members (e.g., wheelchair accessibility)
  • Carry the contact information of family members, local neighborhood contacts, and out of town contacts in your wallet or purse
  • Consider an alternative plan for communication in case telephone lines stop working
  • Know the safest areas of your home in case it is too dangerous to evacuate
  • Have each person with a cellphone download the San Diego Emergency App

Review Utility Shut-Off Procedures:

Contact your utility company for correct emergency procedures on how to turn off electricity, water, and gas. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms regularly and change the batteries according to the manufacturer’s directions.

Gather Important Documents:

Keep vital records such as social security cards, birth certificates, wills, deeds, and passports in a safe location such as a safety deposit or fire safe box.

Catalog Personal Property:

As tedious as it seems, taking inventory of the items in your home is necessary. This is a safe way to ensure that you are fairly reimbursed  by insurance, and eases the process of applying for federal disaster aid.  This is also a good time to review your insurance policies and become familiar with your coverage.

Create an Emergency Kit:

Don’t wait until the last minute to make sure you have emergency supplies. According to, a basic emergency kit should include:

  • Water — one gallon per person per day, for at least three days
  • Food — a three-day supply of non-perishables (and a can opener)
  • Battery-powered (or hand-crank) radio, with extra batteries
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Cellphone, with chargers (or a solar charger)
  • Cash or traveler’s checks

Do Your Homework:

Research which disasters are most common in your region. Consider both human-caused (e.g. transportation accidents, hazardous materials) and natural disasters (e.g.fires, earthquakes) and consider how they will affect you. Familiarize yourself with with how local authorities, television, and radio stations warn you of potential or current disaster situations. Ready San Diego has a list of the most likely disasters to affect San Diegans and how to prepare for them.

Pet Disaster Kit:

It is crucial to make sure you’ve made provisions for each pet in your family’s emergency kit. Items to prepare ahead of time include:

  • Water for each pet for at least three days
  • Food for each pet for at least three days
  • Extra leashes and collars
  • Working carriers or containers for each pet
  • Copies of each pet’s current vaccine records (necessary if you need to go to an emergency shelter)
  • Extra supplies and bedding for reptiles, birds, fish, and rodents

Make sure your pets are microchipped and that the microchip has your current information. Each pet should also have an id tag with your current information. Visit County of San Diego Animal Services for even more information on preparing your pet emergency kit.

Share this information with your family, neighbors, friends, and coworkers to effectively respond to an emergency or disaster situation.

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