Family Preparation











An emergency can happen quickly and often without warning. In a major disaster (emergency) it might take several days for vital services to be restored.

Are you and your family prepared to survive for at least 72 hours without the comforts of home?

In Los Angeles, you are most likely to experience an earthquake. If you can prepare your family for a major earthquake, you will be prepared for most disasters.

Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take in disaster preparedness. Knowing what to do and how to do it can help you and your family manage disasters with less worry, fear, and uncertainty.

Who Will You Help? Once It Happens…It’s Too Late.

Commit a weekend to updating telephone numbers, buying, finding and/or collecting survival supplies, and reviewing your emergency plan with everyone.

The purpose of this City of Los Angeles Family Preparedness Guide is to show you and your family how to prepare and recover.

This guide has been prepared by the City of Los Angeles, Emergency Management Department, (EMD). EMD coordinates the emergency preparedness and planning of all City departments, over four million residents, and over 400,000 businesses residing within our 475 square miles. During major emergencies and disasters, we coordinate the response, mitigation and recovery efforts.


Family Meeting

Who Will You Help? Once It Happens…It’s Too Late.

The purpose of a family meeting is to inform and educate family members, including children, seniors and family members with disabilities. Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take in disaster preparedness.

Knowing what to do and how to do it can help you and your family manage disasters with less worry, fear, and uncertainty.

All Family Members need to know the following:

  • The location of your Survival Supplies.
  • The location of the “GO BAGS” .
  • Draw a map of the house. Locate doors and windows that can be used as evacuation routes.
  • Identify two evacuation routes from each room.
  • Practice your evacuation routes.
  • Determine a meeting place outside of your residence, in case it is unsafe to remain indoors.
  • Do not meet on the roof.
  • Determine one location outside neighborhood in case of evacuation.
  • Keep gas tank half full at all times. Gas might not be available after a disaster.
  • Determine out of state contacts. Family members should be instructed to call them in event of emergency. Local calls may be difficult to place.
  • Practice your Drop, Cover & Hold-On (Earthquake) and Stop, Drop & Roll (Fire Drills).
  • Teach each member of your family how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Create emergency cards for each of your family members (page 15).
  • Locate utilities: Determine how to turn them off and with what tools? Do not turn the gas back on by yourself.
  • Gas Meter
  • Gas On-Off Valves
  • Electrical Meter Water Shut-Off


  • Children should be taught and know the following responsibilities. A child that is knowledgeable of the information below will feel more in control during a crisis situation.
  • Include children in discussions and planning for emergency safety.
  • Know two escape routes from your residence and from each room.
  • Designate primary meeting areas and alternate meeting areas in case of an evacuation.
  • Be alert for different or strange smells. Alert an adult
  • Never touch fallen poles or wires.
  • In case of separation, children should know their family’s personal information such as: How to spell their full name, their parents’ names, their phone numbers, address, and other appropriate information.
  • Every family member should have an “emergency card” which includes information above plus out-of-state contact.
  • Know how to contact out of state contact?
  • Know how and when to dial 911.
  • Practice Role-playing what to tell the 911 dispatcher.
  • Practice Role-playing what to do when a parent or caregiver becomes suddenly ill or injured
  • Rehearse Drop, Cover, and Hold-On (Earthquake)
  • Rehearse Stop, Drop and Roll (Fire)
  • Notify your children’s school of address changes, phone numbers, and authorized persons to pick up children.
  • Find out the emergency procedures of your child’s school.


Survival Supplies are different from a First Aid Kit. A First Aid Kit is part of Survival Supplies. Imagine that a disaster has occurred, there are no utilities and your house is not safe to stay in. Survival Supplies will provide both physical and mental relief at a very stressful time.

Survival Supplies can be stored in a large watertight container that is easily moveable, like a trash can with wheels. Food and water should be replenished after expiration dates.

There are many items on the list below. Think about situations unique to your family. It is important to recognize the significance of each item. You may know where these items are throughout the house, but in the event of an emergency, there is no time to gather all the items.

Family members should know the location of the Survival Supplies.

For additional supplies got to


How much and why?

Water   1 gallon/person/day for three days. People can become dehydrated quickly, even in cold weather

Food    3 day supply of non-perishables: canned meat, fruit and vegetables;

Utensils  cereal, peanut butter; manual can opener, sharp knife utensils, plates, paper towels.

Battery operated or Hand-Crank Radio  Use AM Radio. Listen to KNX 1070 AM, KFWB 980 AM, and KFI 640 AM radio stations for regional emergency alert information for the Los Angeles County area.

Flashlight (s) Batteries should be inserted at time of emergency. Flashlight in rooms could have batteries already inserted.

First Aid Kit  Can be purchased at local pharmacy. You can attend to the immediate first aid needs of your family, including bleeding and burn relief. Look for instructions inside the First Aid Kit.

Whistle  One whistle to signal for help.

Duct-Tape; Plastic Sheeting; Dust Mask Duct tape is versatile. Plastic sheeting and duct tape can be used as a shelter-in-place barrier. Mask is for blocking contaminants

Sanitation/Toiletries Toothbrush, toothpaste; toilet paper; moist wipes; large garbage bags and shovel for waste disposal

Shut-off wrench, pliers Know where the gas shut-off is; Turn off only in an emergency

Local Maps You should be familiar with evacuation routes.

Clothes Two sets of clothes, undergarments, socks, comfortable, but sturdy shoes. Babies may need more.

Blankets/ Sleeping Bags Enough to cover family member for warmth and comfort.

Medication One week supply. Instant cold packs for refrigerated medications since you may not have access to refrigeration.

Matches Stored in a water-proof container. Water-proof matches can be purchased at camping supply stores.


Things to consider: These may not apply to your family situation.


  •  Formula
  •  Diapers
  •  Bottles
  •  Powdered milk
  •  Medications
  •  Moist towelettes
  •  Diaper rash ointment


  • Ask your doctor about storing prescription medications such as heart and high blood pressure medication,insulin and other prescription drugs.
  • Denture needs
  • Contact lenses and supplies


  • Do you know the meeting place(s)? Do they need mobility assistance?
  • Think about what modes of transportation you use and what alternative modes could serve as backups.
  • If you require special access transportation be sure your alternatives are also accessible.
  • Make a communications plan: Who is the out-of- state contact to be notified?
  • A week’s supply of any medications, discuss with doctor about an emergency situation.
  • If routine medical treatments are administered at a clinic or at home discuss with health practitioner a plan in the event of an emergency.
  • If you have tools or aids specific to your disability, plan how you would cope without them. For example, if you use a communication device, mobility aid, or rely on a service animal, what will you do if these are not available?
  • If you are dependent on life-sustaining equipment or treatment such as a dialysis machine, find out the location and availability of more than one facility.
  • For every aspect of your daily routine, plan an alternative procedure.
  • Make a plan and write it down. Put the plan in an envelope and place it with your Survival Supplies.


Part of your Family Plan should include your family pet. Having a plan for them will reduce stress, difficulty and worry that often occurs following an emergency.


Water        3 days supply; This is separate from the  human supply of water.

Food         3 days supply in an airtight and waterproof container

Medicines and Medical Records   An extra supply of medicine that the animal regularly takes Collar with ID, harness or leash. Your pet should be wearing an ID tag at all times. You should keep an extra leash/ harness and ID tag in Emergency Kit. Also adoption papers, medical and vaccination records should be included. Consider getting a permanent ID, like microchip ID.

Crate or pet carrier      A sturdy crate or carrier will aid a safe evacuation for your pet. It should be big enough for the pet to sit, turn around, and lie down.

Sanitation    Plastic bags; litter box; household bleach for disinfecting

Picture of you and pet   In the event of separation, a picture can  ease the reunion process.

Familiar Items   Toys, treats, or familiar bedding to reduce  stress.

To consider:

  • Make plans what you will do in an emergency with your pet.
  • Will you stay or evacuate?
  • What will you do in the event that you are not home and cannot get home?
  • Can you make plans with the neighbors?
  • Below are internet sites with downloadable checklists:
  1. LA Animal Services
  2. Prepare your pets for disasters


According to a study from the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA), 55% of the injuries during the 1994 Northridge earthquake were caused by falling furniture or objects. Only one percent of injuries were caused by building damage. Other injuries were due to people falling or behaving dangerously. Many of these injuries could have been prevented through actions taken before the earthquake.

As a family, go around your residence and identify areas that need to be secured or repaired. Here is a suggested checklist. Not all items will apply to your household.

  • Securely fasten or RELOCATE heavy pictures or mirrors away from beds.
  • Fasten shelves securely: bookshelves, wall units, and entertainment centers. Nylon/ Velcro straps found at home improvement stores.
  • Place large, heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Brace overhead light and fan fixtures.
  • Secure cabinets to wall studs. Use latches designed for child-proofing, earthquakes or boat safety to keep cabinet doors from flying open and contents falling.
  • Secure electronics with nylon/ Velcro straps found at home improvement stores:
    • Computers, microwaves, televisions.
    • Secure refrigerator so that it will not fall or move.
  • Secure water heater. Strap to wall studs.
  • Gas and water lines should be flexible.
  • Store weed killers, pesticides, painting and cleaning liquids away from heat sources.
  • Place oily polishing rags and waste in covered metal cans.
  • Secure chimney with sheet metal straps and steel angle bracing to roof rafters.
  • Clean and repair chimneys, flue pipes, vent connectors and gas vents.
  • Repair defective electrical wiring and leaky gas connections.

Know how, when and where to turn off utilities. Do not practice this on the gas meter since the gas utility professional must restore service after being turned off.


Depending on the emergency you may decide to go (evacuate) or shelter-in-place. During some emergencies it is not safe to go outside. You may not receive information immediately. You should use your battery- operated radio

to learn about updated information. Television and the Internet are good resources if they are available.

Use AM Radio: Listen to KNX 1070 AM, KFWB 980 AM, and KFI 640 AM radio stations for regional emergency alert information for the Los Angeles County area.

Now that you are prepared, what will you do when it happens?

  • Make sure that part of your family meeting is what to do during and immediately after the event.
  • What are the emergency procedures at your work?
  • What are the emergency procedures at your child’s school?
  • Part of the family meeting should include your neighbors. Discuss and plan with them about what will happen in the event of an emergency.

Stay or Go: Asses the situation

  • Is the building appear to be unsafe to remain in?
  • Can you return to the building or must you stay somewhere else?
  • Administer First Aid and get help for any seriously injured persons.
  • If you are at home, check for damages using a flashlight. DO NOT USE


Check for any fire, electrical, or other household hazards. Check for any spilled beaches, gasoline, or other liquids that may produce deadly fumes when mixed, or be a fire hazard.

Sniff for any gas leaks, starting at the water heater. In the event that you smell gas, shut off gas at gas meter, open windows, and evacuate the premises immediately.

Shelter-In-Place: Authorities may mandate this strategy

In a biological or chemical emergency, it might be necessary to shelter-in-place and seal the room. This is considered a short term strategy. Choose a room with few or no windows. Key points to remember:

  • Make sure all family members and pets are inside together.
  • Make sure your basic Emergency Supplies Kit is with you.
  • You will need your battery operated radio for updates.
  • Turn off any type of ventilation or heating systems.
  • Seal off any openings, windows, doors, and vents with duct tape and plastic sheeting. Plastic sheeting should be cut ahead of time. (10’x10’)



You also may be asked to evacuate by authorities.

If you cannot take your basic emergency supplies kit, at least take the emergency envelope with your important documents and a “GO BAG”

A “GO BAG” is an individual emergency kit for each family member. These items can be stored in a backpack.

A “GO BAG” can be stored in an individual’s sleeping area. It is recommended that you have a GO BAG for your pet as well. You should have a GO BAG in your car.

Your workplace may also have a type of emergency kit as well.

Essential Items Include:

  • Individual Emergency Card
  • Water    A couple of 1/2 liter bottles
  • Non-perishable food    Granola bars, crackers
  • Medication & First Aid Supplies   A few days supply
  • A family photo    Identification purposes
  • A pocket-knife    To cut food, duct tape, first aid
  • A dust mask    A contamination protection
  • A change of clothes, underwear, sturdy shoes A warm top for cold weather or a hat for the sun.
  • Toothbrush/ toothpaste    Travel size is sufficient
  • Small Amount of Cash    Small denominations, and coins
  • Flashlight with batteries    To aid in evacuation or searches.
  • Whistle    So other people can find you
  • Small battery operated radio    To keep updated on disaster
  • Local Map    Know Local Evacuation Routes
  • Pencil, Permanent Markers, Paper    To record information
  • An Extra Set of Keys    Auto/Home
  • Feminine Hygiene Products    Depends on individual
  • Small Toys, playing cards, books    Depends on individual


Earthquakes: Earthquakes damage can extend for miles from the epicenter. Damages can include collapsed building, bridges, and overpasses; cracked roadways; downed power lines; broken gas lines; fires; explosions; and landslides.

Earthquake responses: Duck, Cover, and Hold. Evaluate damages to structure and humans. Evacuate structure if necessary. Take GO BAG.

Tsunami: A large wave, or series of large waves created by an undersea disturbance, such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption.

Tsunami responses: Evacuation is necessary. Gas tank should be at least half-full. A GO BAG should be in the car.

Chemical or Biological Release: A chemical emergency can occur as an accident or maliciously resulting with a release of chemical agents. A biological emergency can be a natural outbreak of disease or a deliberate

release of germs or other biological substances.

Chemical or Biological Release Response: Get to a safe area by evacuating or shelter-in-place (use duct tape and plastic sheeting to create barrier).

Mudslide: Mudslides are moving rivers of rock, soil, and water. Most often they are triggered by rain, but also can occur after volcanic activity, earthquakes, fires, and manmade stress on the land.

Mudslide Response: If there is a threat of a mudslide in your area, you must evacuate immediately. Take GO BAG

Fires: Fires can spread quickly. In five minutes an entire house can be engulfed in flames. Often, the heat and smoke can be even more dangerous than the flames.

Fire Response: If you are on fire: STOP, DROP, and ROLL. Evacuate immediately when you see, hear, feel, smell smoke and/ or fire.

Take GO BAG.


For additional ways to be informed before an emergency, visit:


CERT LA is a FREE training offered to adults (18+) Participants will learn the how to:

  • manage utilities and put out small fires
  • provide basic medical aid
  • search for and rescue victims safely
  • organize themselves and spontaneous volunteers to be effective, and collect disaster intelligence to support first responder efforts

It is a 17.5 hour course offered over 7 weeks (once a week) plus bi-annual refresher courses. Classes are offered throughout City of Los Angeles; all year; various times of the day. If you have a group of 20 or more, CERT LA can arrange a course for your business, school, or neighborhood.

LA CERT PHONE NUMBER :818-756-9674

LA CERT web site: LA Community Emergency Response Team

LA CERT  email: or

CERT course information can be viewed online, but a person cannot be certified with a CERT certificate until completion of the in-class instruction.

Visit this at

AMERICAN RED CROSS (ARC) offers classes in Basic First Aid, CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation), Disaster Preparedness, etc.


American Red Cross of Greater Los Angeles can be reached at:

1-800-627-7000 or American Red Cross LA or

11355 Ohio Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90025