Resources: General Preparedness


Community and personal preparedness is important all year long! Having the tools and plans in place could help you survive a public health emergency. Disasters don't plan ahead - you can!

Expand the sections below to learn more about community and personal and family preparedness. ​​

What should I include in my emergency supply kit?


​Your emergency supply kit can have a variety of items in it for varying stages of preparedness. Here's the basics:

  • ​Water: One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. Include extra water for pets.
  • ​Food: At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers if you need to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Local maps
  • External phone charger

Download the full list of items for your emergency supply kit.

​Adapted from

What is a family communications plan?


​A family communications plan includes:

  • How you will contact one another
  • How you will reconnect
  • What to do in different situations

To create a family communications plan:

  • ​Fill out an Emergency Contact Card for each member of your family to keep in your wallet or backpack.
  • Establish an out-of-town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than a call across town.
  • Be sure every family member has the phone number memorized.
  • The phone system may be overwhelmed during an emergency. Be patient. Text messages are more likely to go through than phone calls.
  • Choose a secondary meeting place where you will reconnect with your family if you cannot access your home.

Fill out our Family Communications Plan​ and keep it on your fridge!

What important documents should I protect?


​Keep copies (not originals) of these important documents in a waterproof, portable container. You can also keep a password-protected CD or USB drive in your emergency supply kit.

  • Social security cards
  • Birth/marriage/death certificates
  • Divorce decrees
  • Wills
  • Living wills
  • Advanced directives
  • Power of Attorney papers
  • Insurance policies
  • Medical records
  • Current and favorite family photos
  • Financial documents and tax returns
  • Inventory of household goods (including photographs)
  • Records of vauable collections
  • Appraisals
  • Deeds
  • Mortgages
  • Titles
  • Rental agreements
  • Motor vehicle titles
  • Bill of sale
  • Serial or VIN numbers
  • Driver's licenses
  • School transcripts
  • Diplomas

How can I be informed?


Learn about potential emergencies that can happen where you live (for example: hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, and how to respond).

Sign up to receive text alerts from MdReady or MdListo​​ (en español).​

Contact your county local health department​ to learn about the emergency plans already established in your area.

Prepare for man-made and natural disasters. Know what to do during an emergency - it makes all the difference when seconds count.

What is a state of emergency?


In Maryland, our Governor can declare a state of emergency. This allows Maryland state agencies to coordinate and request emergency resources and support. Resources, like the National Guard, can increase the State's response to an emergency.​

During a state of emergency, residents should watch local news reports and weather forecasts and follow official's orders.

A state of emergency does not close schools automatically. Local school districts will decide whether to stay open or close.

A state of emergency does not require businesses to close. Employers are asked to consider employee safety when deciding whether to stay open or close.

Motorists are not forbidden to drive on the roads during a state of emergency unless the Governor has issued a travel ban. If no ban has been issued, use common sense when driving. Give yourself extra time to arrive at your destination. Let your family know your route and expected arrival time.

What should I do if my power or water goes out?

If your power goes out, contact your local power company. Maryland power companies include (but are not limited to):

Water outages can be reported to your county's Department of Public Works.​

You can also call 2-1-1 for community resources. 2-1-1 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in over 180 languages.

What is the difference between evacuating and sheltering-in-place?


Local officials will tell you whether to evacuate or shelter-in-place during an emergency. Listen to your radio or TV and follow the directions of emergency officials.

  • Shelter-in-place: When conditions require you to seek immediate protection in your home, workplace, school, or other location.
  • Evacuate: When you can prepare in advance of an emergency, local officials may ask you to evacuate. Have a portable disaster supply kit ready to go.

Who should I contact during an emergency?

  • ​For a medical emergency, call 911 immediately!
  • If you are in need of community services, contact 2-1-1.
  • For questions about local warming or cooling shelters and health resources, contact your Local Health Department
  • For questions about emergency evacuations or other emergency information, contact your local Office of Emergency Management.

I'm pregnant. What specific preparedness information do I need to know?


​Pregnancy can bring its own emergency preparedness needs.

  • ​Pack your emergency kit with supplies for mom and baby, including:
    • emergency birth supplies, such as ​clean towels, sheets, clean scissors, sterile gloves, and sanitary pads.
    • nutritious foods, such as protein bars and nuts
    • extra bottled water
    • diapers/wipes
    • medications, such as prenatal vitamins
    • baby carrier
  • Include your obstetrician/midwife and pediatrician on your Family Emergency Communication Plan. Put it on your fridge or somewhere easily accessible.
  • Take prenatal vitamins. Folic acid helps to prevent major birth defects.
  • Review the emergency route to the hospital or location where you plan to deliver. Keep an emergency hospital bag by the door.
  • Take CPR and first aid training. If you are already certified, review specific guidelines for infant CPR and first aid.
  • Get vaccinated - vaccines protect you and your baby from diseases, such as flu and whooping cough.
  • In an emergency, CALL 911!