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Be sustainable for 72 hours


Being prepared for emergencies is crucial at home, school, work and in your community. Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood, workplace or school or can confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity or telephones – were cut off?

Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. The best way to make you and your family safer is to be prepared before disaster strikes. We encourage you to: 1. Build a Kit  2. Make a Plan , 3. Be Informed, and 4.Get Involved. The goal is to be sustainable for 72 hours, or 3 days.

1. Build a kit

  • One gallon of water per person per day.
  • Non-perishable food items that require no refrigeration, little or no preparation or cooking, and little or no water. Some suggested items include: energy and/or granola bars; ready-to-eat canned soup, meats, fruits, and vegetables; peanut butter; fruit snacks; dry milk; dry cereal; packaged cookies and/or crackers.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Eating utensils, cups, and bowls.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries (matches and candles can be fire hazards, especially if there is a gas leak).
  • Radio and extra batteries (NOAA weather radio is encouraged).
  • First aid kit. A first aid kit should include:
    • Sterile adhesive bandages in assorted sizes
    • 2-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
    • 4-inch sterile gauze pads (4-6)
    • Hypoallergenic adhesive tape
    • Triangular bandages (3)
    • 2-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    • 3-inch sterile roller bandages (3 rolls)
    • Scissors
    • Tweezers
    • Moistened towelettes
    • Antiseptic
    • Thermometer
    • Tongue deprressors (2)
    • Tube of petroleum jelly or other lubricant
    • Assorted sizes of safety pins
    • Cleansing agent/soap
    • Latex gloves (2 pair)
    • Sunscreen
    • Face shield
    • Cold pack
    • Eye wash solution
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Burn ointment
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications. Consider including the following non-prescription drugs:
    • Aspirin and/or nonaspirin pain reliever
    • Anti-diarrhea medication
    • Antacid (for stomach upset)
    • Syrup of Ipecac (use to induce vomiting if advised by the Poison Control Center)
    • Laxative
    • Activated charcoal (use if advised by the Poison Control Center)
  • One change of clothes per person. Consider including raingear, gloves, and sturdy shoes.
  • Bedding for each person, whether it be a blanket or a sleeping bag.
  • Copies of important papers and documents including identification cards, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies.
  • Sanitary supplies including moistened towelettes, toilet paper, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, and garbage bags with twist ties.
  • Household chlorine bleach.
  • Extra eye glasses or contact lens supplies.
  • Various tools such as a wrench to turn off the gas, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, and plastic sheeting.
  • A whistle to signal for help.
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air.
  • Extra money, preferably cash in case the power is out.
  • Extra copies of keys to house and/or car.
  • Contact information of each member of the family, including phone numbers and email addresses, as well as one contact person out of the area who may be easier to reach if local phone lines are out of service or overloaded.
  • A map with several evacuation routes marked.
  • Baby items such as bottles, formula, and diapers.
  • Pet supplies including food, water, leash, cleaning supplies, and identification.
  • A sturdy but easy-to-carry container such as a backpack, duffle bag, or suitcase, to store aforementioned items.  

**Important Notes**

-Ensure that food, water, and medications are fresh and/or do not expire by using and re-

supplying your kit every 6 months, or according to specific expiration dates.

-Store food in appropriate containers to protect from pests and maintain freshness.

2. Make a plan

  • Discuss the types of disaster most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Make sure everyone knows where to find your emergency supply kit.
  • Have a flashlight and a pair of shoes under everyone’s bed.
  • Identify escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room. Find safe spots in your home, especially for tornadoes and shelter-in-place.
  • Pick two places to meet: Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency and outside your neighborhood if you can’t return home.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact”. After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact’s phone number.
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, ambulance, police, etc…)
  • Teach your family how and when to call 911.
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher, and have fire extinguishers available on each level of your home.
  • Learn how and when to turn utilities off.
  • Conduct emergency drills once a year.
  • Take into account the special needs of:
    • Elderly family members and family members with disabilities <insert Special Concerns/Elderly family members and family members with disabilities link>
    • Children <insert Special Concerns/Children link>
    • Pets <insert Special Concerns/Pets link>

3. Be informed

  • Learn what disasters or emergencies may occur where you live, work, and play.
  • Learn about emergency procedures at work, schools, and anywhere your family spends time.
  • Identify how local authorities will notify you during a disaster and how you will get important information, whether through local radio, TV or NOAA weather radio stations or channels.
  • Familiarize yourself with sheltering-in-place and evacuating. <insert Important Instructions link>
  • Learn beforehand how adults <insert Coping with Disaster link>and children <insert Helping Children Cope with Disaster link>can cope with disaster in a healthy way
  • Educate yourself further by exploring several valuable and informative websites <insert Important Websites link>
  • Share what you have learned with your family, household, and neighbors, and encourage them to be informed too.

4. Get involved

  • Training.
    • It is important that you be trained in initial first aid care and CPR. The American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis can provide you with a wide variety of training courses to help keep you and your family safe. Online training is also available at
    • You can also receive training to become part of a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) through Marion County Emergency Management Agency. After completing this training, you will be better prepared to respond to and cope with the aftermath of disaster. Contact Elia James at  for more information.
  • Volunteer.
    • The American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis depends on volunteers to carry on its humanitarian work. For more information about volunteering, call (317) 684-1441 or visit
  • Donate.
    • Blood is needed in times of emergency, but the ongoing need is also great. You can support your community blood supply by calling 1-800-GIVELIFE (1-800-448-3543) or visiting and making an appointment to donate blood today.
    • Your financial contributions make you a part of the lifesaving work of the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis. For more information about how to donate, call (317) 684-1441 or visit

What to do if…

Important Instructions

  • Shelter-in-place. One of the instructions you may be given in an emergency is to shelter-in-place. This means you should stay indoors until authorities tell you it is safe or you are told to evacuate.
    • Select a small, interior room, with no or few windows. Preferably this room will also have a hard-wired telephone and a television.  
    • Gather your family members and pets into this room.
    • Bring your emergency supply kit.
    • Close and lock all windows and exterior doors.
    • Turn off all fans, heating and air conditioning systems. Close the fireplace damper.
    • Use duct tape and plastic sheeting to seal all cracks around the door and any vents into the room.
    • Listen to your radio or television for further instructions or updates.
    • If you have children and they are at school when the shelter-in-place instruction is given, do not pick up your children. School officials have shelter-in-place procedures. You would be endangering yourself and others if you left a safe area during an emergency.
  • Evacuate. Evacuation is another instruction you may receive from authorities when your area is seriously threatened in an emergency. When that happens, you and your family need to leave the area quickly and safely. If time allows:
    • Put on sturdy shoes, a long-sleeve shirt, and pants.
    • Turn off and unplug all appliances.
    • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so by authorities.
    • Lock doors and windows.
    • Bring your pet(s).
    • Bring your emergency supply kit.
    • Take neighbors that don’t have transportation.
    • Use travel routes specified by local officials – not short cuts.
    • Call your family contact and tell them where you are.
    • Listen to your radio for further instructions or updates.
  • Disaster Sheltering. For those who have no alternative place to stay, disaster shelters will be available. Shelter sites change based on the emergency, so stay tuned to the local news for the latest information. Below are several things to know about staying at a disaster shelter:
    • Bring your emergency supply kit. Only water and basic food are provided.
    • Alcoholic beverages, firearms, and illegal substances are not allowed in disaster shelters.
    • Disaster shelters may be set up in schools, municipal buildings, and places of worship.

Special Concerns

Elderly family members and family members with disabilities. Create a network of at least three trusted individuals, such as family, friends, co-workers, and personal attendants, who can assist during an emergency. Evaluate your capabilities, limitations, needs and surroundings to determine what type of support you may need in an emergency.

  • For Persons with mobility impairments.
    • Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers.
    • If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
    • Consider including these additional items in your emergency supply kit if necessary: a pair of heavy gloves to use while wheeling, an extra battery for a motorized wheelchair or scooter, jumper cables or a specific recharging device, a patch kit or can of “seal-in-air product” to repair flat tires, a spare cane or walker.
  • For Persons who are Blind or Visually Impaired.
    • Be aware that alarms may be so loud they will drown out audio cues, such as the sound of people running.
    • Keep an extra collapsible cane by your bed. Attach a whistle to the cane; use it if you need to attract attention.
  • For Persons who are Deaf or Hearing Impaired.
    • Find out if fire alarms in buildings you frequent are visual.
    • Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost so you can locate them quickly after a disaster.
    • Consider including these additional items in your emergency supply kit if necessary: extra batteries for your hearing aid(s), pad and paper with pens or pencils for writing notes. 


  • Include your children in family discussions and planning for emergency safety.
  • Teach your children their basic personal information so they can identify themselves and get help if they become separated from a parent or guardian.
  • Prepare an emergency card with information for each child, including her/his full name, address, phone number, parent’s work number, and out-of-state contact.
  • Know the policies of the school or daycare center your children attend. Make plans to have someone pick them up if you are unable to get to them.
  • Regularly update your child’s school with current emergency contact information and persons authorized to pick up your child from school.
  • Make sure each child knows the family’s alternate meeting sites if you are separated in a disaster and cannot return to your home.
  • Make sure each child knows how to reach your family’s out-of-state contact person.
  • Teach children to dial their home telephone number and Emergency 911.
  • Teach children what gas smells like and advise them to tell an adult if they smell gas after an emergency.
  • Warn children never to touch wires on poles or lying on the ground.
  • Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses such as evacuation routes, and Stop, Drop, and Roll.
  • Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured.
  • Role-play with children on what to say when calling Emergency 911.
  • For helpful suggestions specific to children with special needs, check out the following website:
  • If a disaster occurs, know how to help children cope with disaster. <insert Helping Children Cope with Disaster link>


  • Most shelters do not accept pets, except for service animals, so contact hotels and motels outside your area to see if they accept pets. Keep a list of those locations with their contact information.
  • Ask out-of-town family or friends if they would be willing to shelter your pets in an emergency.
  • Prepare a list of boarding facilities and veterinarians who could shelter animals in an emergency – include their contact information.
  • Ask local animal shelters if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets in a disaster.
  • Transport your pets in a carrier for the duration of the disaster. This makes pets feel safer and more secure.
  • Know your pets’ hiding places so that you can easily find them in times of stress.
  • A stressed pet may behave differently than normal and his/her aggression level may increase. Use a muzzle to prevent bites. Also be advised that panicked pets may try to flee.
  • Arrange for a neighbor to check on your pets and take care of them if a disaster occurs while you are not at home.
  • Keep your pet’s ID tags up to date. Consider having your pet micro-chipped.
  • Don’t forget to include items for your pet(s) in your emergency supply kit! <insert Build a Kit link>

Coping with Disaster

Here are some basic steps you can take to meet physical and emotional needs.

  • Try to return to as many of your personal and family routines as possible.
  • Get rest and drink plenty of water.
  • Limit your exposure to the sights and sounds of disaster, especially on television, the radio, and in newspapers.
  • Focus on the positive.
  • Recognize your own feelings.
  • Reach out and accept help from others.
  • Do something you enjoy. Do something as a family you have all enjoyed in the past.
  • Stay connected with your family and other support systems.
  • Realize that sometimes recovery can take time.
  • If you require additional assistance in recovering emotionally after a disaster, contact the American Red Cross of Greater Indianapolis at (317) 684-1441.

Helping Children Cope with Disaster

Children may respond to disaster by demonstrating increased anxiety or emotional and behavioral problems. Some younger children may return to earlier behavior patterns, such as bed wetting and separation anxiety. Older children may react to physical and emotional disruptions with aggression or withdrawal. Even children who have only indirect contact with the disaster may have unresolved feelings.

      In most case, such responses are temporary. As time passes, symptoms usually ease. However, high winds, sirens, or other reminders of the emotions associated with the disaster may cause anxiety to return.

      Children imitate the way adults cope with emergencies. They can detect adults’ uncertainty and grief. Adults can make disasters less traumatic for children by maintaining a sense of control over the situation. The most assistance you can provide a child is to be calm, honest, and caring. 

      Children usually take their lead in a situation by reading the emotions of adults. Adults should share their true feelings about the incident, but maintain a sense of calm for the child’s sense of well-being.

      Listen to what the child is saying. If a young child is asking questions about the event, answer them simply without the elaboration needed for an older child or adult. If a child has difficulty expressing feelings, allow the child to draw a picture or tell a story of what happened.

      Try to understand what is causing anxieties and fears. Be aware that following a disaster, children are most afraid that –

·       The event will happen again.

·       Someone will be killed.

·       They will be separated from the family.

·       They will be left alone.

Reassure children with compassion and understanding. Suggestions to help:

·       Hug and touch your children.

·       Calmly and firmly provide factual information about the recent disaster.

·       Encourage your children to talk about their feelings. Be honest about your own.

·       Spend extra time with your children at bedtime.

·       Re-establish a schedule for work, play, meals, and rest.

·       Involve your children by giving them specific chores to help them feel they are helping to restore family and community life.

·       Encourage your children to help develop a family disaster plan.

·       Make sure your children know what to do when they hear smoke detectors, fire alarms, and local community warning systems such as horns or sirens.

·       Praise and recognize responsible behavior.

·       Understand that your children will need to mourn their own losses.

You’ve tried to create a reassuring environment. If your children do not respond when you follow the suggestions listed above, seek help from an appropriate professional such as the child’s primary care physician, a mental health provider specializing in children’s needs, or a member of the clergy.