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Department of Health Services

Public Health Division

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Guide to Emergency Preparedness

It starts with you! Consider basic protective measures you can take to prepare yourself and your family before, during and after a disaster or public health emergency. Be prepared for all hazards such as:

  • Earthquakes
  • Wildfires
  • Flooding
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Accidental & Intentional Threats

 Project funded by: Public Health Emergency Preparedness Grant Funds to Sonoma County CDC PHEP Agreement #14010550.

Consider the physical, emotional and financial impact a disaster may have on you, your family, friends and community.

  • Recognize the signs and symptoms of disaster-related stress such as difficulty sleeping, communicating or concentrating; depression or thoughts of suicide; and overwhelming thoughts of guilt and self-doubt.
  • Recognize psychological distress in infants and children such as aggression, bedwetting, sleep problems, withdrawal and separation anxiety.
  • Use your support networks to talk about your feelings; seek help with a professional trained to help with post-disaster stress and trauma.
  • Limit exposure to the media especially for children.
  • Talk with your insurance provider about available coverage and out-of-pocket expenses you may incur and have a current estate plan.

Get Trained

Learn When & How to Shut Off Gas & Electricity

Get CPR, First-Aid and CERT Trained

Community Engagement

  • Consider engaging in or starting up a neighborhood preparedness and/or response group

Five P's of Evacuation

In the event of an evacuation, follow instructions from authorities and leave the area immediately. Remember the Five P’s of Evacuation:

  1. People nd Pets
  2. Prescriptions
  3. Papers
  4. Personal Needs
  5. Priceless Items

Emergency Kit

Be prepared with basic survival necessities for a minimum of 3-days and optimally for 2-weeks. 

Basic Necessities

  • Safe drinking water(1 gallon per-person per day)
  • Non-perishable foods such as canned & dry items
  • Safe, alternative heating & cooking methods
  • Manual can opener, disposable plate ware, utensils & paper towels
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank lights (flashlight, lantern)*
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Extra batteries
  • Sanitation items such as a bucket lined with a garbage bag with a lid, toilet paper & moist towelettes
  • Personal & feminine hygiene needs
  • Regular, unscented household liquid bleach for disinfectant & water safety

Infants & Youth

  • Formula, baby food jars, non-perishable snacks such as cereal & crackers
  • Diapers & wipes
  • Emergency backpack with child identification, medical & emergency information & change of clothes
  • Comfort blanket, toy & book

Pets & Service Animals 

  • Pet food, water & medications
  • Leash or harness, waste disposal materials & a crate or carry bag in case of evacuation


  • Extra supply of medications for adults & children, inhaler, pain reliever, etc.
  • Copies of prescriptions, doctors’ orders, known allergies & physicians’ contact information
  • First aid kit
  • Back-up assistive devices and extra batteries for battery-powered devices. Don’t store batteries long-term inside devices to avoid corrosion.


  • Adjustable pipe or crescent-type wrench to shut off gas
  • Fire extinguisher
  • N95 type mask to protect from inhaling dust, smoke or chemicals
  • Goggles and gloves
  • Sturdy shoes to navigate debris or terrain 

Sheltering-in-Place Supplies

  • Tarps, large trash bags or plastic sheeting to cover vents, windows & doorways
  • Duct tape

How to Make Water Safe

After a natural disaster, water may be contaminated. Do not drink water that has an unusual odor or color, or that you know or suspect might be contaminated.

Methods to Make or Find Safe Drinking Water:

  1. Purify: Bring water to a rolling boil for 1 full minute. Let water cool before consuming.
  2. Chlorination: Use regular, unscented, household liquid bleach. Never mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners.
    • For concentrated bleach (8.25% sodium hypochlorite) add 6 drops of bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of clear water.
    • For less concentrated bleach (5.2% sodium hypochlorite) add 8 drops of bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of clear water.
    • If tap water is cloudy, double the number of drops of bleach for each gallon of water.
    • Mix the bleach and water well and wait 30 minutes or longer before consuming.
  3. Emergency Sources: Additional safe water sources include the water heater tank, melted ice cubes and liquid from canned fruit or vegetables.   

Preparedness and Communications Plan

Have the disaster discussion with your family, co-workers, friends and neighbors to discuss potential impacts a disaster may have in your community. Identify specific needs you may have and plan for those needs and how you can help protect yourself and others. 

  • Do you have an evacuation plan?
  • Who is your emergency point of contact both locally and out of the area?
  • Can you function at home without power for an extended amount of time?
  • Do you have an emergency cache of supplies for a minimum of 3 days and optimally for 2 weeks?
  • Do you and your pet(s) or service animal have a safe place to stay in the event you can’t go back home right away? 

Considerations for Families with Children
If your child is in daycare or school:

  • Include child identification, emergency contact and medical information in their backpack, cubby or locker
  • Know your child’s school evacuation plan
  • Have a backup person who can pick your child up and ensure they are on the facility’s permission list
  • If your child takes medication keep an extra supply with the facility including instructions and dosage 

Considerations for Individuals with Disabilities or Access & Functional Needs

  • Discuss assistance you and your service animal may need with your employer, neighbors, friends and family in the event of a disaster. Have a backup plan for in-home assistance and care in the event your primary caregiver is not available.
  • Train your support network on how to operate or move any assistive devices or specialized medical equipment.
  • Talk to your service providers about their emergency plans and how essential services such as health care, meals, oxygen, dialysis and transportation needs will be met.

Get to Know Your Neighbors! In the event of a disaster or public health emergency your neighbors may be a critical resource. For example:

  • Who has a special skill set that could be vital in an emergency (nurse, contractor, HAM radio operator, CERT or CPR trained, etc.)?
  • Who has a generator?
  • Who has a fenced yard or safe place to keep pets?
  • Who has a truck or utility vehicle?
  • Who could offer a safe, comforting gathering place for children?