Make an emergency plan and a “Disaster Go Bag” for National Preparedness Month

August 30, 2018
A disaster go bag with key supplies, including bottled water, snacks, and a first aid kit

This September, Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance invites you to take critical steps to ensure that your family has not only an emergency plan but also a disaster go bag. By following our checklist, you can make sure that you and your loved ones are ready to evacuate with your essential supplies in hand.

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Follow the checklist below, or download it and share it with your family. If you’d like additional information, visit NYC Emergency Management: Get Prepared. You can also print the checklist (.pdf).

Step 1: Develop an Emergency Plan

  • Discuss the dangers of fire, severe weather, and other emergencies with all household members. Review how to respond to each.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Make sure everyone knows all the escape routes from your home and neighborhood. Practice them.
  • Post emergency numbers near telephones and record them in your cell phone contacts. Include 911, the Poison Control hotline at 212-POISONS (212-764-7667), nearest relative, family physicians, and school(s).
  • Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.

Step 2: Develop a Communication Plan

  • Select a friend or relative that lives out of town that household members can call in case separated in a disaster. Make sure everyone knows this telephone number.
  • Pick two emergency meeting places where your household can reunite after a disaster. Pick a place near your home and one outside of your neighborhood, such as a library or church. Make sure everyone knows the address and phone number of each meeting place, and which one to try first.
  • Plan for someone to pick up your children, stay with your elderly household members, and care for your pets in case you cannot travel home. Find out if you can authorize a friend or relative to pick up your children at school in case an emergency keeps you away.

Step 3: Keep Emergency Supplies in Your Home
Keep enough supplies in your home to survive on your own for at least three days. Store the supplies in a special “For Emergencies Only” cupboard or storage bin. Include the following:

  • Water (one gallon per person/per day)
  • Non-perishable packaged or canned food and a non-electric can opener
  • Change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes
  • Sleeping bags or blankets
  • First aid kit
  • Battery-powered AM/FM radio
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Credit cards and $100-$200 in cash
  • Special care items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members
  • Games and small toys for children (if applicable)
  • Whistle
  • Utility knife
  • Extra fire extinguisher
  • Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, and feminine hygiene products

Step 4: Prepare a Disaster Go Bag!
Assemble supplies that you might need in case of evacuation in an easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or suitcase on wheels. Include the following:

  • Copies of important documents (photo IDs, birth certificates, insurance cards, credit/debit cards, regional map) in a waterproof pouch
  • Cash (in small bills)
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Bottled water and granola bars
  • Prescription medications for at least one week (be sure to check with your pharmacist first)
  • Contact and meeting place information
  • Sturdy, comfortable shoes, raingear, and a blanket
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Small, battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries, including a toothbrush, bar of soap, and hand sanitizer
  • Notepad and pen

If you have small children:

  •  Child care supplies
  •  Games and small toys

If you have a pet and/or service animal:

  • A current color photograph of you and your pet/service animal together
  • Copy of ID, registration, and adoption papers
  • Copies of medical and vaccination records and a list of medications
  • Animal first aid kit, including flea and tick treatment and other items recommended by your veterinarian
  • Food and water for at least three days
  • Food and water dishes

Step 5: If You Need to Evacuate

  • Make arrangements for pets. Animals may not be allowed in public shelters.
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio for the location of shelters.
  • Wear protective clothing and sturdy, comfortable shoes.
  • Take your Disaster Go Bag.
  • Lock your house.
  • Follow instruction of local officials.

Make a Work Go Bag

In an emergency that impacts our community or city, you may find yourself unable to commute home. Having a disaster work go bag is important if you need to shelter in place at work. Consider keeping these supplies in a sturdy canvas backpack or duffle bag in your office, locker, or work space:

  • Cell phone charger
  • Change of clothes
  • Dust mask
  • Flashlight
  • Food bars (energy bars or granola bars)
  • GloSticks
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Pen and paper
  • Plastic bags (e.g. for collecting wet clothes)
  • Rain poncho
  • Toothbrush and toothpaste kit
  • Whistle
  • $20 in small bills

Don’t forget any other personal items you might need, such as contact lens solution, an extra pair of glasses, and so on. If you have questions about how to assemble a work bag, please contact Yvonne Wojcicki, executive director of Campus Life Safety and Regulatory Compliance, at yw2366@cumc.columbia.edu.

Did You Know?

Our CUIMC Facilities Management teams are comprised of essential personnel. During an emergency or suspension of operations—such as inclement weather—our staff report to their locations to ensure that essential campus functions are running smoothly. To make sure we’re prepared for anything, we equip each of our staff members with a go bag, too!