The best way to prepare for a disaster or emergency is to plan how you and your family will respond to one.  Different emergencies will have different specific responses – such as evacuating or sheltering-in-place – but it is important that all family members understand their basic family response plan. The response plan can then be altered for a variety of natural or man-made disasters.

The plan should be reviewed and practiced every 6 months.  This time period should coincide with ensuring a Disaster Supply Kit is complete, replacing water supplies, and replacing batteries in smoke detectors.

Meet with household members to:

  • Discuss how to respond to each disaster that could occur.
  • Discuss what to do about power outages and personal injuries.
  • Teach everyone how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at main switches.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.
  • Instruct household members as to which radio and TV stations have emergency information.
  • Pick one out-of-state and one local friend or relative for family members to call if separated by disaster.

Assemble a disaster supply kit. If you need to evacuate your home or are asked to "shelter in place," having some essential supplies on hand will make you and your family more comfortable. Prepare a disaster supply kit that includes water, food, and other emergency materials. A detailed list and more information is available at on the Disaster Supply Kit page.

Create an emergency communications plan. Choose an out-of-town contact that each family member will call, text, or e-mail to check-in should family members be separated when a disaster occurs. The selected family contact should live far enough away that they would unlikely be directly affected by the same event. The family contact must know and understand his or her role in the family’s emergency plan. Printable cards to be completed and given to each family member can be found on the Emergency Communications Plan page.

Know school Information and policies. Prince George's County schools have plans in place that anticipate many kinds of emergencies. These plans are continuously being updated. For information on emergency notification, including details on the Emergency Alert System, protective actions, and parents' responsibilities during an emergency, visit the School Information section of this site.

Plan for your pets

Because pets are not permitted in some shelters and hotels, a plan to care for pets during an emergency should be in place. In the case of sheltering-in-place, pets may need to have a place for them to relieve themselves indoors. For more information on disaster preparation for pets, visit

American Red Cross