Your Emergency Prep Guide

While you can't anticipate every possible scenario, Anita Chandra, a doctor of public health and the director at the RAND Corporation’s unit on Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment, says that it’s important to be ready for anything in order to protect yourself and your family.

Creating a Two-Pronged Plan

Earthquakes, storms, tornados, hurricanes, wildfires, and floods are just a few of the possible emergencies that could befall your community. And while the logistics can vary, Chandra says that there are two very important parts of a personal disaster preparedness plan. One involves gathering the supplies you need to have on hand. The second requires prepping for the emotional impact of a crisis, and arranging access to the type of supports you would need for sustained recovery. "We talk about [preparedness in terms of] Connect, Prepare, Respond, and Recover," she says.


Chandra says being emotionally prepared for a crisis is as—if not more—important than physical prep. Emotional readiness requires connections with others and planning for post-disaster recovery.

Connections need to happen on the local level; examples include neighbors helping each other and supporting each other in times of need. Chandra says that people who are socially isolated can connect with community groups and resources so they won’t have to struggle alone. No matter whom you want to connect with, it’s important to form these key relationships before you ever need them and to start the conversation about how you can support each other if disaster strikes, she stresses.

To supplement your emotional planning, Chandra recommends keeping a contact list with phone numbers handy so you will be able to call neighbors when you need them.

Preparing and Responding

It’s a good rule of thumb to have three to five days’ worth of supplies ready in case you become stranded without electricity or transportation, Chandra says.

Some of the type of supplies you might need include:

  • Water
  • Flashlights
  • Batteries
  • Canned foods and nonperishables
  • Phone that doesn’t require electricity
  • Battery-operated clock and radio
  • Homeowners’ insurance policy (in case your home gets flooded or suffers damage)
  • If your emergency plan includes leaving home, directions or a map to a friend or relative’s home out of state.
  • If you have children, your emergency supply kit should include a favorite stuffed animal or toy and a coloring book and crayons, or other activities to help keep little ones busy in an emergency.

Chandra says that all of your emergency supplies should be kept in a waterproof box that will be easy to grab and bring with you if you need to evacuate your home.


"Remember that we live in a world with certain risks,” Chandra says. Although you can’t always prevent something bad from happening, be it a fire, hurricane, storm, or school shooting, when you have a "resilience mindset," you will at least have the skills to handle almost anything. Such a mindset means being emotionally prepared to deal with a disaster, and having people and places you can turn to for support to help you handle the crisis and its effects.

For more information about emergency planning, go to

Anita Chandra reviewed this article.


Chandra, Anita, Director, RAND Justice, Infrastructure, and Environment. Phone interview, Sept. 25, 2014. 

"Know Your Disaster Risks." Ready. Accessed Sept. 30, 2014.