What you can do to prepare for an emergency

Find out how to prepare for an emergency.

The emergency services are trained to cope with a wide range of emergency situations, but there is a lot that you can do yourself to prepare ahead.

Develop an emergency plan

  • Check that you have adequate household and contents insurance.
  • Find out how and where to turn off power, gas and water supplies.
  • Store important documents in a fire or waterproof container or safe deposit box.
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers near the phone.
  • Decide how your family will share essential tasks, such as collecting children from school and checking on elderly neighbours.
  • Arrange for an out-of-town friend or relative to be a contact point.
  • Find out whether your local district or borough council has a detailed plan on how they will deal with an emergency in your area.
  • Prepare an emergency survival kit (or 'grab bag') and keep it handy.

See our Household Emergency Plan below for assistance.

What to include in the 'grab bag'

  • A battery-operated (with spare batteries) or wind-up radio
  • A battery-operated (with spare batteries) or wind-up torch, candles and waterproof matches
  • Comfortable shoes
  • A first aid kit and manual
  • A combination pocket knife
  • Medications, toiletry and sanitary supplies and a change of clothes
  • Anything additional that infants, the aged and people with disabilities may need, if appropriate
  • Bottled water
  • Pet food and water, if appropriate
  • Blankets
  • Money
  • A mobile phone and charger
  • Strong plastic bags for clothing, valuables, documents, and photographs

Be prepared for evacuation

In some emergencies the safest action is to stay inside, but if the emergency services think it safer to evacuate the police will clear the area. District and borough councils will normally provide accommodation for people made temporarily homeless, often by opening a rest centre.

  • Listen for updates and safety advice on the radio or television and follow advice from emergency authorities.
  • Practice evacuation procedures beforehand, including a head count.
  • Have your car under cover, with a full fuel tank, and plan a safe route.

If you do evacuate

  • Gather family and pets.
  • Turn off the electricity, gas and water, and lock doors and windows.
  • Take cash, cheque books, credit cards, social security documents and portable valuables.
  • Take your emergency survival kit with you.

You may experience a range of physical and emotional reactions after the emergency. These are a normal response to the experience, but consult your GP if they continue.

Further information on preparing for emergencies is available from GOV.UK. 

Our Protect your business pages provide information on how to prepare a business continuity plan to help in the event of an emergency or disruption.

Last updated:
4 June 2018

Share this

Share this

Do you have any feedback about this page?

Help us improve this website

Let us know if this page was helpful so we can make improvements. Add a star rating and leave your feedback below to show how useful you found this page.

Rate this page:
Clear star rating...
  • West Sussex County Council will only use this email address to respond to any issues raised.

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.