Safety & emergency preparedness

Plan for everyone

Everyone who lives with you should be included in your emergency planning. This includes your pets. Make sure you make plans for seniors, people who need special help, and people who don’t speak English.

Fill out a health information form for anyone who takes medicines or who has a medical need. This includes anyone who has trouble walking or is in a wheelchair, or who can’t hear or see well.

Functional and access needs

If you have a functional or access need, such as needing a walker, or assistance while walking, you need an emergency plan for both home and work. Make sure you share your plans with caregivers and emergency contacts.

Create a network for emergency support

A personal support network is especially important for people who face physical challenges during an emergency. Choose trusted family, friends, neighbors, or co-workers to be part of your support network. Have more than one person who can help you.

Once you have your personal support network in place, you should:

  • Make sure that everyone in your personal support network knows how to contact you in an emergency.
  • Ask a friend or relative who lives out-of-state to be your emergency contact. If Philadelphia phone lines are busy in an emergency, it may be easier to make long-distance calls. Your out-of-state contact can help you keep in touch with others.
  • Arrange for more than one person to check on you right after an emergency.
  • Pick two places to meet with family, friends, or caregivers after an emergency. One should be right outside your home. The other meeting place should be outside your neighborhood. You could choose a library, community center, or place of worship.

Special evacuation needs to think about

  • Will you need help to evacuate? Decide who will help you and how you will get to a safe place or shelter.
  • Do you have a way to reach your emergency contacts?
  • Do you know all the usable exits from each room and from your building. Make a habit of knowing where the exits are when you are in a new location such as a shopping mall, restaurant, or theater.
  • Do you know evacuation plans for the places where you spend time? Every building’s plan is different. Find out if there are floor marshals, and if they are in charge of evacuation plans. Be sure to let them know what special help you may need in an emergency.
  • Do you have a backup transportation plan in case your usual way is not available?
  • Do you use special ways to communicate, such as American Sign Language or computers that “speak”? Make a plan for how you will communicate with emergency workers and other unfamiliar people.
  • Have you practiced your plans? If you do practice drills, you can evacuate easier during a real emergency.
  • Have you practiced dealing with different conditions and unexpected situations, such as blocked paths or exits?
  • Are you are blind or have low vision? Make sure members of your support network practice guiding and directing you. Also include service animals in all drills so they learn exit routes.

Pet emergency kit

Keep your pets safe

Pets are part of your family, and they need to be part of your Family Emergency Plan. If you have to evacuate, take your pets too.  Most shelters don’t let pets in unless they are service animals, so make sure you have a place to bring your pets in an emergency.

Pet emergency planning tips

  • Ask friends or relatives outside your neighborhood if you and your pets can stay with them in an emergency.
  • Ask a neighbor, friend, or family member if they will look after your pets if you can’t get back home in an emergency.
  • Know your pets’ hiding places so that you can find them quickly.
  • If you need to go to an evacuation shelter, bring your pets with you only if you have nowhere else to take them.

Make sure each pet has:

  • A license and ID tag and current vaccinations
  • A three-day supply of food, water, and medicines
  • Bowls and a manual can opener for wet food
  • Collar, leash, muzzle, and carriers/cages to keep pets safe and make sure that they can’t run away
  • Copies of your animal’s health records, registration, proof of vaccination, pet license numbers, and microchip numbers
  • Animal first aid kit, including flea and tick treatments
  • Contact information for your vet
  • Any medicine your pet takes, along with a list of the medication, dose, and why your pet takes the medicine
  • Toys and treats
  • Litter, litter box, and scoop (if necessary)
  • Plastic bags, paper towels, and cleaning supplies
  • Photos of your pet

For more information about how Pennsylvania supports animals during disasters, visit the website of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) also provides information on disaster preparedness for pets.


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