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During the first few hours or days following a disaster, essential services may not be available. People must be ready to act on their own. Being prepared at home is the single most important thing to help your family and the community .


This page provides detailed information about being 2 Weeks Ready (pdf) for you and your family. Emergency responders once said three days of supplies was what you needed in case of a major earthquake or other massive disaster. Now, it's two weeks in the Pacific Northwest. It came about after the June 2016 Cascadia Rising drill which tested the Pacific Northwest's ability to not only survive but recover from a Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake and resulting tsunami. The results found residents and state emergency response were not ready. You will be able to obtain guidance on how to plan, prepare and become involved in your community.


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The Washington Emergency Management Division (EMD) created an Emergency Preparedness Guide  "Disasters Happen: Are You Ready?" It is a great quick reference resource that covers all four key preparedness steps.

Here are EMD and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) videos that provide some overviews on preparing:

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Be Informed
1.  Be Informed

 Know the facts and be empowered. Topics covered in this section include :

Note: click on the topic above to move to that section


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Community Risks
Community Risks and Hazards

Be informed about potential hazards and risks in your community.  These may include earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes, river and urban flooding, landslides, winter storms, power outages and more. Firefighters and emergency managers would include the danger of forest fires. Click here for more information


The best way to stay safe is to get notified about potential danger as early as possible. You can make that happen for yourself, your family, your friends and your neighbors by downloading apps to your phone. Register in those areas where you work and live. These are free Alert systems:


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FEMA App: A simple and easy-to-use tool
  • Receive fast and reliable weather alerts from the National Weather Service for up to five different locations nationwide.

  • Learn how to prepare for emergencies and useful tips to keep you and your loved ones safe before, during and after disasters.

  • Locate open shelters and disaster resource centers near you.

  • Submit photos of damage in your area.

  • Prepare your emergency kit, make a family plan, and set reminders.

  • Download the FEMA App on the App Store for iPhone.

  • Download the FEMA App on Google Play for Android.

  • Learn about the FEMA App on

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Radio

When you need to stay connected: purchase an AM/FM/NOAA radio capable of receiving weather information, sign up for alert/warning notifications, and download alert applications on your phone.

Hand crank radios are considered an emergency kit essential by emergency authorities. The best emergency crank radios provide NOAA weather alerts, sustainable power, and light. In an age that we feel virtually helpless without cell phones and the internet, these radios can be a beacon of hope when you need it most.

Note: This is NOT an official endorsement, just for information purposes

Cell Phone, Amateur / HAM radio, Family Radios Service (FRS)

Stay connected with cell phones, Family Radios Service (FRS), General Mobile Radio Service (GMRS), HAM (amateur) radios and home phones. 


We depend on our cell phone for instant voice and text contact so make sure you have the correct equipment to keep it charged.  Think about it - if cell towers were down you may find that an old-fashioned corded phone might be your best option. It is recommended that you use text messaging during a disaster. You will have a higher probability of  contacting family or friends out of state.


HAM (amateur) radio is our final communication plan.  This method uses point-to-point and repeater relay of messages across the city, county, state, country and the world. Anyone can become an FCC-licensed amateur radio operator.

For more information, click here to access the October 17, 2018 Volunteer Emergency Worker Meeting Notes  (pdf) Look in the training section.

Make a Plan
2. Make a Plan

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area.  Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. Put in place a guardian/emergency contact if you may not be able to get your children at school. As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities.  You can also use the bold blue quick links to go to a topic areas on this page.


​The best way to help in your community is to be prepared. In case you have to immediately evacuate your home, prepare a "go bag" for each person and your pets. Have at least two-week supplies of food, water, medications and basic needs in case you are cut off from services and asked to remain in your home. Have a plan. Do your family members know meet up locations? Do you have an out of area contact that everyone knows to check in with in the event of a major disaster? Do you have a well-stocked first aid kit in your home and vehicle? Plan today for your possible needs of tomorrow. It is always better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can. Make an emergency plan today. 

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  • Talk with your family about making a plan.

  • How you will contact each other? 

  • Who will do what when a disaster happens?

  • Decide where you will meet and have an Evacuation Plan

  • Write down friends, family, and out-of-state contact phone numbers and ensure text capability.

  • Have cash, documents, insurance.

  • Know your children’s/families routes – so you can backtrack if needed.

  • Know your evacuation route.

  • Share your plan with family and friends.

  • Remember to plan for family members who might need extra help with walking, seeing, or hearing.

  • Include your pets in the plan.

  • Check your insurance coverage and review the document and insurance property guide.

  • Visit to learn more about flood insurance and how to protect your home or business.

  • Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit (EFFAK)

  • How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

  • Have a  shelter plan.

  • Download and fill out a family Emergency Plan for Parents . 

  • Have a  family/household communication plan.

  • If you leave your home after a disaster leave a message for family and friends who might be looking for you. 

  • Parents should sit down with their children and discuss the possibility that they could be separated in the event of a disaster or emergency. ​ Identify an out-of-state contact who everyone will check-in with after the disaster.

  • Parents and children should decide on an out-of-area contact they can call in an emergency. An out-of area contact is important because our region may be so impacted in a disaster that we can't communicate locally, but could get in touch with relatives or friends out-of-state. 

  • Families should write up their plan, including an agreed-upon meeting place near the home, should an emergency happen after school or while the family is in the home or neighborhood. Include all relevant phone numbers: work, school, cell phones, after-school care providers, etc. 

  • Once families have a plan in place: practice, practice, practice! Send your child to school with the confidence that they're prepared for disaster! 

  • Packing a GO Bag is vital to you and each person in your family. You can visit for more info but here are some tips to help you get started. Each person (and pet) in the family needs a backpack or duffel bag.

  • Prepare in a Year (pdf)

  • Mobile Homes in Earthquakes (pdf)

Communication Plan
Communication Plan

Keeping everyone connected when disaster strikes is key. How would you make sure everyone is safe? To avoid trouble with land lines, establish a pre-arranged contact out of state. 2 Weeks Ready - Communications If someone is trying to call home in the disaster zone, the call may not go through. Use text messages. Family communication plan contact template for kidsHere is more information about my family/household communication plan


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Important Documents
Important and Valuable Documents
Take photos of all the rooms in your home and your valuables. Store them on a flash drive, hard copy etc. and keep them in your bag.

Scan your important documents onto a flash drive to keep in your bag.
  • driver license

  • deed to house

  • Will

  • insurance

  • medical records/medication list

  • passport

  • Social Security Insurance (SSI) info

  • birth certificate

  • personal contacts

  • your pets medical records

This is all very personal information so keep it as secure as you possibly can when you are storing your copies of these things. Never trust your information to be held by someone else. For more information click FEMA's Keep Your Important Documents Safe from a Disaster  and Financial Preparedness

Financial Preparedness
Americans at all income levels have experienced the challenges of rebuilding their lives after a disaster or other emergency. In these stressful circumstances, having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the recovery process quickly and efficiently. Click Here

Financial Preparedness
Under the Bed
Under The Bed

Be Ready to respond - day or night: Although rare, emergencies are likely to happen to all of us at some point. The last place you want to be during an emergency is caught unawares, especially if you are asleep. Set yourself up for defense by emergency-proofing your bedroom now. Then, you (and your bedroom) will be prepared to meet any kind of emergency.

When an earthquake or other disaster happens in the middle of the night, you will have at your fingertips: shoes to protect your feet from glass and other sharp items, gloves to protect your hands, a flashlight to see your way out and a whistle to let everyone know where you are – either outside and safe (thank goodness) or still inside and need help (can you hear my WHISTLE?).

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Hazard Hunt
Hazard Hunt 

All of Washington State has the potential of being impacted by a major earthquake. Earthquakes strike suddenly and without warning. When they occur, they cause the ground to undulate and shake, perhaps violently. Buildings – and their contents – are vulnerable to this rocking and rolling. Fortunately, experts teach how to secure homes to their foundations, and contents to wall studs. Here are recommendations for reducing earthquake hazards in your home. 

  • Fit gas appliances with flexible connections and/or a breakaway gas shut-off device, or install a main gas shut-off device.

  • Secure water heater(s) to walls.

  • Anchor bookcases and filing cabinets to walls.

  • Install latches on drawers and cabinet doors to keep contents from spilling out.

  • Install ledge barriers on shelves, place heavy items on lower shelves, and secure large, heavy items and breakables directly to shelves.

  • Attach computers and small appliances to desks, tables or countertops.

  • Secure ceiling lights, suspended ceilings and other hanging items such as chandeliers and plants to the permanent structure of your house.

  • Apply safety film to windows and glass doors.

  • Anchor large appliances to walls using safety cables or straps. Lock the rollers of any large appliances or pieces of furniture.

  • Earthquake Home Hazard Hunt (FEMA 528) (pdf)



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Prepare Children
Prepare children

Many thanks to Dan Good, Snohomish County Emergency Management. He suggests parents of elementary age children put a small kit in every child's backpack, only to be opened during an emergency. It would include:

  • A letter with photos of each family member (including pets). Note that it should only be opened during an emergency.

  • small amount of cash

  • light stick

  • emergency blanket (Mylar) 

  • a little bit of candy or something small to give comfort to the child.

Sample Comfort Letters:  
Dear _____________, Since you are reading this letter, there must have been an emergency while you were at school. Emergencies can be scary.  The good thing is that they usually don’t last very long.  Things will get better.  Please try to be brave, and even helpful if you can.  We are trying to get to you as soon as we can. Please be patient and remember that we love you and are thinking of you.  Love, _____________ 

Dear _____________,  We love you very much and want you to know that this is a time to be brave and helpful.  Please don’t worry about your family.  We know that you will be safe at school.  We will all be making the safest choices wherever we are, and someone will be there to pick you up as soon as possible.  In the meantime, stay calm and follow the directions you are given. Love, ____________​

You can also help by preparing a simple emergency card for your student in their backpack that includes: Their name, month/year of birth (for medication dispensing), address, parent’s name/phone (home/cell), allergies, medical conditions, and if he or she wears contact lenses.  For the student’s own benefit, you may wish to include your cell and work phone numbers, as well as your family’s out-of-state contact person’s name and phone numbers. 


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Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts of Western Washington wants to make Emergency Preparedness fun for girls and volunteers. It is the intent of this patch program to take the fear away and replace it with empowered Girl Scouts! Through this patch program, it is our hope to encourage Girl Scouts to engage in building resilience at the neighborhood level. Once completed, Girl Scouts will not only have taken charge of their learning but will be prepared and capable of taking a leadership role in their families and communities about preparedness. Many in government agencies are surprised to learn that all Girl Scout leaders are required to be First Aid/CPR/AED certified. They do not realize that through badge and journey programs, most girls have earned their First Aid badge. Many of the older girls have earned Shelter Management and Wilderness First Aid Certificates. In a large-scale disaster, and even in a smaller event, Girl Scouts can play a role in resilience and recovery. The requirements for this patch program can be done individually, as a family, or as a troop. You do not need to do this on your own; however, there are lots of folks in your community who can help. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your County Department of Emergency Management, local Fire or Police Department, the American Red Cross, or even your local veterinarian.


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Boy Scouts of America (BSA) 

From its beginning, the Scouting movement has taught young people to do their best, to do their duty to God and country, to help others, and to prepare themselves physically, mentally, and morally to meet these goals. The basic aims of Scouting include teaching young people to take care of themselves, to be helpful to others, and to develop courage, self-reliance, and the ability to be ready to serve in an emergency.

The Emergency Preparedness BSA Award, first introduced in 2003 and updated in 2014, was designed with the aims mentioned above in mind. The award has been earned by tens of thousands of Scouts and Scouters individually, with their unit, or at a large event such as a jamboree. By developing these lifelong skills, Scouts have been instrumental in helping their communities recover from emergencies. Click here for more information

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American Red Cross - Pillowcases for Emergencies

At the Pillowcase Project, kids, ages 8 to 11, decorated pillowcases for use in an emergency supplies kit. Parents were also encouraged to join the fun. The American Red Cross (ARC) hosts fun events like this to help kids prepare for disasters.

The Pillowcase Project was inspired by Loyola University students during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A Red Cross official saw students carrying their things in pillowcases and came up with the idea for the project. Now sponsored by Walt Disney Co., Pillowcase Project resources are used in schools around the country.

Kett used games to act out disasters that might occur in the Washington State area. He first asked the students how they would respond in an emergency. He then helped them understand the right actions to take. The children also got an activity book to help them start a family emergency plan and build a personal emergency supplies kit.

It is easy to build an emergency supplies kit with a pillowcase. The American Red Cross suggests adding a flashlight, food that will not go bad, water, and a comforting item such as a stuffed animal. You can learn more about The Pillowcase Project and other preparedness tools here. If you have any questions about The Pillowcase Project, please contact your local Red Cross location. For more information on how to plan ahead for natural disasters, visit and  Youth also get involved Click Here for more information


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Student Reunification 

Plan for Student Disaster Release - Reunification​. Students will only be released to designated emergency contacts.  Photo ID is absolutely required.

  • Reduce traffic congestion – carpool or walk if possible

  • Make sure roads are safe to travel on and do not rush

  • You will receive communications from the District office. Please comply if a delayed pick up time is announced.  The student release process will go faster if school staff has time to set up before parents arrive.

  • Above all, remain patient.  This process was designed with your child’s safety in mind.

 Review procedures with your students and your designated guardians, emergency contacts. You may wish to give your school a longer list of emergency contacts authorized specifically for district-wide emergencies.  For example, neighbors and parents of school friends. Be sure your contacts know how to reach you via phone, text, email. In the Northshore School District (NSD), Parentvue is used to keep all contact information and this will be used in the reunification process.

Register Yourself as “Safe and Well”

After a disaster, letting your family and friends know that you are safe and well can bring your loved ones great peace of mind. earch for Loved Ones
Concerned family and friends can search the list of those who have registered themselves as “safe and well” by clicking on the “Search Registrants” button. The results of a successful search will display a loved one’s first name, last name and a brief message.


This American Red Cross website is designed to help make that communication easier. 

Register Safe
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Animals and Pets


Animals and Pets

Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what's best for you is typically what's best for your animals.

Our partners at the Federal Emergency Management Agency have developed several resources to help you care for your animals and prepare for a disaster.

Additional resources:

Practice Drill
Build Your KIT
Practice & Drills

Practice your plan with your family/household

  • Sign up for alerts and warnings in your area.

  • Practice your fire escape plan by having a home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the home.

  • Do a communications drill with your out-of-area contact and circle of family and friends, both via text and call.

  • Practice evacuating in the car with your animals, so they’re more familiar if you need to evacuate in an emergency.

  • 7 Tips for an Effective Emergency Drill

  • Practice Makes Perfect: Emergency Preparedness Drills 

Get the @fema app with weather alerts for up to 5 locations, plus disaster resources and safety tips:

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3. Build Your Kit

A supplies kit is simply a collection of basic items your household may need in the event of an emergency. Try to assemble your kit well in advance of an emergency. You may have to evacuate at a moment's notice and take essentials with you.

Keep at least two weeks of supplies in your home. Make yourself a list of the last second things you would need to grab in the event of an emergency. DO NOT wait until there is an emergency to search for things. PRE-PLAN!! Have smaller kits for work, for every family member, and pets.  Have a vehicle safety kit also.

Here are some checklists: 

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FEMA, the American Red Cross and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention all provide checklists to help you get started, and many items they recommend overlap. Each agency offers a basic list, which includes water, food, a battery- or hand-powered radio, a flashlight, batteries and a first-aid kit.


The disaster supply kit should contain essential food, water and supplies for at least two weeks. Keep the kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept. Additionally, consider having supplies for sheltering for up to two weeks.

Grab and Go

In case you need to evacuate quickly you need to prepare your “Grab & Go” kits. You can purchase a kit with basic supplies, but you will need to add extra food, water, clothing, cellphone & charger, power bank, important documents, and cash in small denominations. It is also very important to take your family’s medications with you. Make sure your kit is light enough to easily carry - consider using a backpack or rolling suitcase. You may not be able to put all the things you need in your Grab & Go Kit, so keep heavy, large, and bulky items in your vehicle; making them are part of your overall disaster supplies.

Have your child pack their own kit. Food, water, clothing, and flashlight are a must, but let them add things that are important to them. Remind them to keep it light, since they will be carrying it.


An infant will have specific needs too. If you are already carrying a backpack you might want to use a front carrier for your child or perhaps a small stroller for carrying both the child and its Grab & Go items.

Pets are an important part of your family. Their kit should include a carrier, food, water, leash, towels/blankets to keep them warm, and waste bags. Don’t forget your pet important documents: photos, name tag/license, vaccination records, medication list, and your vet’s contact information.


The kit should be in one container and ready to “grab and go” in case you are evacuated from your workplace. Make sure you have food and water in the kit. Also, be sure to have comfortable walking shoes at your workplace in case an evacuation requires walking long distances. Office and personal kit supplies checklist


In case you are stranded, keep a kit of emergency supplies in your car. This kit should contain food, water, first aid supplies, flares, jumper cables, ice scraper, fix it flat, shovel, sand and seasonal supplies. Car kit checklistA good driver is always prepared. Breakdowns can happen anytime, anywhere. In addition to having the necessary equipment handy to change a flat tire, there are some other items you should always have on hand. Here we'll teach you how to pack a roadside emergency kit to keep you safe. If the power goes out due to inclement weather, it's nearly impossible to get gas with just your credit card. Cash always works, so keep some safely tucked away in your car. Make sure to include a roadside assistance phone number.

Here are some useful resources:

Grab n go
Get Involved
4. Become Involved
Remember: In a disaster, your most immediate source of help are the neighbors living around you. Take action today. Become involved in community preparedness groups.
Click on these ways to be informed, they  links to get specific topics on this page:
Get involved in your community by taking action with FEMA’s citizen responder programming to help your community become prepared. Learn more

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