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Article: Guide to Emergency Preparedness

Natural Disasters / Civil Emergencies

Table of Contents
  1. Natural Disasters / Civil Emergencies
  2. Civil Defense Agencies
  3. Emergency Medical Services
  4. Emergency Manager, Planners and Responders
  5. Home Preparedness
  6. Work and Office Preparedness
  7. Summary

Planning for a Natural Disaster

Fire / Wildfire
Power Outage

Natural disasters cannot be stopped and often cannot be avoided. However, planning for a natural disaster can greatly reduce its impact. The sites below offer information about planning for specific types of natural hazards or disasters. They will also help you prepare for an emergency.

Ready - Prepare, Plan, Stay Informed
This organization addresses the needs and concerns of people with special needs in emergency situations. It has information and access to resources on preparing for a disaster. There is also information on relief and recovery following a disaster.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
This website describes disaster concerns and lists contact information for the lead organizations in disaster planning.

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Weather is a powerful force of nature and at times can be unpredictable. Below are links that post up-to-date information about weather and possible weather related disasters.

National Warnings Area
The National Warnings Area is a government site that posts any weather warnings that may be in affect.

The Weather Channel
The Weather Channel website gives up-to-date information on the weather anywhere in the world.


A hurricane is a low-pressure system or cyclone that happens in areas where there is a pre-existing weather disturbance, warm tropical oceans, moisture, and relatively light winds. If the right conditions persist long enough, they can combine to produce the products of a hurricane.

National Hurricane Center
The National Hurricane Center has storm information and tracking. On their site is also information about Hurricane preparedness and different forecasting models.


Floods can be caused by excessive rainfall, rapid melting of snow pack, or in the event that a dam breaks. Excessive water in relatively dry areas can have a devastating impact on people and their possessions. More people die in floods per year than in hurricanes, tornadoes, and lightning.

American Red Cross
This fact sheet talks about what to expect from a flood, how to reduce potential flood damage, and how to prepare for a flood.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
This site provides current flood watch information to help you determine your risk of flooding, and tips on how to plan and prepare for an emergency.

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Earthquakes are a sudden movement of the earth's crust. This movement usually happens along where plates (called tectonic plates) meet one another. Volcanoes and man-made measures such as testing nuclear weapons can also cause earthquakes.

Emergency Essentials
Go to this website to learn what to do before, during and after an earthquake.

Federal Emergency Management Agency
The FEMA website provides useful information on how you and your community can prepare for an earthquake. You can also learn about the danger zones and after effects of an earthquake.


A tsunami is a natural disaster that happens when a series of giant waves are generated because water in a lake or in the sea is rapidly displaced on a massive scale. Earthquakes, landslides, volcanic eruptions, and large meteorite impacts can cause a tsunami.

The Tsunami Warning System
This site will give you information on the nationwide tsunami warning system.

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More than 3,000 people die each year in home fires in the United States. Many of these deaths could be prevented by planning ahead. The links below contain information on how to effectively plan ahead and improve home fire safety.

Fire Safety for People with Disabilities
This site contains a fire-safe checklist for people with special needs. Find out if you have protected yourself and your home from a fire by going to this website.

Fire Safety Campaigns
This site has various campaign materials to promote fire safety.

United States Fire Administration
Go to this site to learn more about the nature of fire, hazards and fire safety. There is also information about sprinklers for your home, escape planning and fire safety for at-risk populations.

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The following are some initial actions you can take to reduce risks associated with wildfires. Although these disasters are often associated with the West, continued drought conditions make more areas susceptible to these dangers.

Fire Safety is especially important if you are in a vulnerable area during dry conditions:

  • Build fires away from trees, bushes or other places it could spread.
  • Have a way to quickly and completely put the fire out and don’t leave the fire unattended.
  • Avoid open burning completely, especially during dry season.
  • Chimneys and Stovepipes should have spark-arrestors.
  • Have an evacuation plan with more than one route.
  • Have a Tinder free zone 30 feet around house (increase the area if one side of the house is down-hill, since fire travels more easily uphill).
  • Store combustibles, such as firewood, 100 feet away from structures.
  • FEMA recommends Grills with propane tanks be at least 15 feet from structures.
  • Enclose eaves and overhangs to make it more difficult for fire to spread.
  • Have electric lines installed below ground if possible.

FEMA: Wildfire
This site provides information on how you can protect yourself from wildfires. Topics include preparing for a wildfire, what to do before, during, and after a wildfire.

Firewise Communities
The national Firewise Communities program is intended to serve as a resource for agencies, tribes, organizations, fire departments, and communities across the U.S. who are working toward a common goal: reduce loss of lives, property, and resources to wildland fire by building and maintaining communities in a way that is compatible with our natural surroundings.

Wildfire Wikipedia
This Wikipedia article provides links to related pages with additional information on wildfires.

National Interagency Fire Center
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), located in Boise, Idaho, is the nation's support center for wildland firefighting. Eight different agencies and organizations are part of NIFC. Various resources are available to both consumers and firefighters to opResources include This site contains various resources on wildfire prevention/education, safety, policies, and more…

GeoMAC Wildland Fire Support
The Geospatial Multi-Agency Coordination Group or GeoMAC, is an internet-based mapping application originally designed for fire managers to access online maps of current fire locations and perimeters in the conterminous 48 States and Alaska. Using a standard web browser, fire personnel can view this information to pinpoint the affected areas.

Fire Information Resource Management System (FIRMS)
This tool provides access to fire detection data and incident information. Fire locations are based on data provided by the National Interagency Fire Center and are subject to change.

Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center
The Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center actively promotes a learning culture to enhance and sustain safe and effective work practices in the wildland fire community. The Center provides opportunities and resources to foster collaboration among all fire professionals, facilitates their networks, provides access to state-of-the-art learning tools, and links learning to training.

American Red Cross: Wildfire
The American Red Cross provides information on how to protect you and your family from wildfires. Topics include wildfire safety, protecting your home, creating a safety zone, and more!

Natural Hazards – Wildfires
The National Disasters Association provides a fact sheet on wildfire hazards.

FEMA For Kids
FEMA designed this site to help kids understand wildfires. The site includes games and an online coloring book as well as coloring sheets that can be printed out.

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Drought is hard to define depending on region and the person, but overall drought is when there is an abnormally long period of time when there is not enough water for user's normal needs.

Drought: Fact Sheet on Water Conservation
This site discusses things you can do to conserve water in the case of a drought and on a daily basis.

National Drought Mitigation Center
The National Drought Mitigation Center is run by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. On their site is information about what a drought is, how to plan for a drought, how droughts are monitored, and what can be done in advance to reduce the long-term risk of drought.


Volcanoes are vents in the earth's crust that molten rock (lava) and gases are discharged. The inside of the earth is hot. Earth and other planets need a way of cooling off. It cools by releasing this molten rock and gas through volcanic eruptions.

Volcano World
This site has information about volcanoes around the world and how they form. They also have a section just for kids.

United States Geological Survey
Read updates on the activity of volcanoes, current eruptions and find historical information on past eruptions.

Power Outage

A power outage is the loss of the electricity supply to an area. This can be caused by a defect in a power station, damage to a power line, a shorted circuit, or the overloading of electricity mains. The links listed below provides information on how to deal with a power outage and also how to prepare for the loss of electricity.

American Red Cross: Blackouts
This Red Cross site has helpful information for anyone dealing with a power outage. Learn how to prepare for a blackout and what to do when there is no power. There is also a section specifically for people with disabilities.

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Last Updated on 12/27/2017

Tuesday, March 21, 2023