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How to Help Your Community Prepare for an Emergency

If a disaster hit, would people in your community know what to do? Work with community groups to help everyone get prepared.


  • Step 1: Get the facts Download emergency-preparation and event-planning checklists at
  • Step 2: Team up with a community organization Ask local organizations to help you set up events to prepare the community for an emergency. Possibilities include faith-based groups, disaster relief organizations, neighborhood associations, PTAs, and more.
  • Step 3: Recruit volunteers Once you’ve scoped out the project, make a list of roles for volunteers in the planning, promotion, and delivery of the event. Recruit from your personal network and the groups you are working with.
  • TIP: People often say they don't volunteer because no one asked them to. Make your request specific, emphasize that it's a short-term commitment, and play up the fun!
  • Step 4: Organize a document duplication event Organize a document-duplication event – a day when community members can go to a central location to photocopy the important documents they'd need in the event of an evacuation. Encourage them to store the papers in something waterproof, like a sealable plastic bag.
  • TIP: Vital documents include your social security card, driver's license, passport, health insurance cards, financial statements, credit card numbers, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, birth and marriage certificates, emergency contact information, and personal or family disaster plan.
  • : Be vigilant about protecting participants' personal documents.
  • Step 5: Prepare emergency supply kits for those in need Put together emergency supply kits with donated supplies or with money collected from fundraising efforts, private donations, and local businesses. Tap community leaders to help identify neighbors who require assistance and distribute kits to those in need.
  • Step 6: Publicize an evacuation plan Invite a representative from your Red Cross chapter or a local government agency to speak about how best to evacuate in the event of an emergency.
  • TIP: If you can't secure a speaker, prepare your own presentation by going to for information.
  • Step 7: Look out for each other Hand out evacuation plan checklists at the meeting. Urge attendees to take responsibility for elderly or physically challenged neighbors who might have trouble vacating their home.
  • Step 8: Have a check-in plan Encourage neighbors to prepare a check-in plan, and to write down a contact number or location where friends and relatives can check in with them after a disaster.
  • FACT: Only 54 percent of Americans are prepared for an emergency, according to a national survey.

You Will Need

  • Emergency-preparation checklists
  • Contacts at community groups to work with
  • A few people to help you

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