Hurricane Isabel Satellite ImageCampaign aims to spur homeowners to prepare before an emergency occurs

Extreme weather, pandemics, terrorist and cyber attacks happen every day around the world. If an emergency occurred today, would you and your family be prepared at home?

“Ready? Set? Good!” is a call-to-action emergency preparedness campaign that encourages people to put aside a portable, battery-powered radio, flashlight and one gallon of water per person, per day to help get them through those first critical hours when basic services are down.

The “Ready? Set? Good!” emergency preparedness campaign is a regional effort funded by the Baltimore Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), using a $40,000 preparedness grant from the federal government. “Ready? Set? Good!” kicks off in September as part of National Emergency Preparedness Month.

The current campaign will run through May 2018, and will be featured through television, radio and digital advertisements with CBS Radio and the Sinclair Broadcast Group (FOX 45).

The campaign targets homeowners, heads of households, moms, dads, caregivers and families to prepare for an emergency before one happens - especially people caring for children, older adults and those with disabilities.

The first 72 hours into an emergency situation are critical, because that generally is how long it takes to get basic services - electricity, heat, water, clearing of streets from snow and debris, etc. - back up and running.

By preparing at home with, at minimum, a radio, flashlight and water, residents will be able to: receive critical information about the situation; navigate safely around their homes; and stay hydrated.

We encourage residents to use a checklist to prepare other items - blankets, non-perishable foods, pets, etc. - beforehand; keep the checklist in their wallet or purse; and purchase items whenever they’re at a store running other errands. UASI also encourage residents to create a family plan.

Disaster Supply Checklist

Emergencies demand the right supplies. Take the time to make sure that you and your family is prepared. It could save your life.

Once you have the three most important supplies – the radio, flashlight and water – make sure to include the following in your home emergency preparedness kit:

  • Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable items such as canned goods, dried fruits, nuts, cookies and crackers
  • A manual can opener
  • Extra prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Pet supplies
  • Basic first-aid kit/supplies
  • A watertight container for important papers
  • Blankets

Your Emergency Plan

Every household and family should create a basic emergency plan. To begin, answer the following questions with the members of your household or family:

  • Who will the household/family contact in the instance of an emergency?
  • What is our designated meeting place?
  • Who will take care of our pets?
  • What insurance do we have and where are the contact numbers?

To Shelter or Evacuate?

Emergency management authorities may instruct you during a crisis to take shelter at home or evacuate to a safer area.

About “Ready? Set? Good!”Rail tunnel fire in Baltimore

The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communications Programs, with input from local emergency planners and first responders, designed the campaign more than a decade ago. The UASI PIO subcommittee includes staff members from BMC, Baltimore City and the City of Annapolis, as well as Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Howard, Harford and Carroll counties.


Links within this website:

Top Priorities

  • Battery-powered radio with batteries
  • Flashlights or battery-powered lantern with batteries
  • Water to last three days, at least one gallon per person per day

High Priorities

  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable items (canned meats, canned fruits and vegetables, dried fruits and nuts, cookies, candy)
  • Manual can opener
  • First aid supplies (sterile gauze and bandages, safety pins, tweezers, a needle, scissors, antiseptic ointment, petroleum jelly and sunscreen)
  • A watertight, portable container for important papers.

Other Supplies

  • Blankets
  • Prescription medications (if you take them)
  • Infant formula, diapers and wipes (for those with babies)
  • Pet supplies
  • Non-prescription drugs (pain relievers, antacids, antidiarrheals, etc.)
  • Toilet paper
  • Paper towels
  • Bleach (16 drops of bleach will disinfect a gallon of water)
  • Disinfectant
  • Personal hygiene supplies
  • Feminine supplies
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape
  • Dust mask
  • Garbage bags
  • Signal flare
  • Whistle
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Jumper cables
  • Tire chains or traction mats
  • Maps
  • Toys and games for kids

A 7-Week Plan

You may want to consider this plan, developed by Baltimore County, for building a complete preparedness kit by purchasing a few items every week for seven weeks (external site).

For more information:
Laura Van Wert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 410-732-9564.

Assisting a disabled person

The elderly and people with disabilities face special issues when preparing for a disaster.

The region has a number of public and quasi-public entities devoted to emergency preparedness for special needs populations. Learn more on our Emergency Preparedness for People with Disabilities page.

All Baltimore area jurisdictions have commissions on disabilities. These panels are charged with advising on public policies involving special needs populations, fostering understanding between the special needs community and the community at large and providing support and resources for those with special needs.

The local commissions on disabilities, along with the Maryland Department of Disabilities, continue to work with emergency management experts on issues relating to disaster preparedness for special needs citizens.

Basic Preparedness Tips

If have physical limitations, build a personal support network of people who will check on you following an emergency.

  • Try to maintain a three-day supply of your prescription medication. If you use oxygen, keep an emergency supply to last at least three days.
  • Talk with your medical supply company about a backup power source if you use medical equipment requiring electrical power.
  • If you use battery-powered or electronic mobility equipment, keep a manual wheelchair, canes, crutches and walkers as backups for use in an emergency.
  • If you have a personal health aide, he or she may not be able to help you after a disaster. Talk with your aide now about whether his or her agency has a plan for providing client services in an emergency.
  • Keep a whistle handy in case you need to signal for help.

The American Red Cross has produced a comprehensive guide to disaster preparedness for people with special needs, including the elderly. You can view this booklet online at 

Preparing for an Emergency: What Do I Need to Know?

After a major disaster, emergency responders will not be able to take care of everyone’s needs immediately. Emergency planners agree that citizens should prepare to be on their own for at least 72 hours.

Having a family plan.Knowing what to do involves:

  • Knowing where to get reliable information before and during an emergency.
  • Being able to make an informed decision about whether to stay or go during an emergency.

A Family Plan

Emergency planning experts encourage you to build a family plan. 

Your plan should include, at minimum:

  • Instructions for children. Kids need instructions about what to do if an emergency occurs while they are in school or otherwise separated from parents. Give children who are old enough a friend or relative to call if they are unable to reach parents by phone. Pick two family meeting places – one near your home and one outside the neighborhood – and make sure all family members know where they are.
  • Plans for pets. Pets have become a pressing issue for emegency planners because recent experience shows that many people will put themselves in danger rather than leave their pets behind. If you feel strongly about your pets, you must prepare in advance what to do with them in case of emergency!

Now is the time to explore whether you could leave your pets with a friend or relative; whether local veterinarians or the Humane Society provides emergency pet sheltering; or whether certain local motels or hotels would accepte pets.  Remember that most shelters and hotels do not accept pets (except service animals).

  • Insurance. Know what kind of disasters you are insured against and what your coverage includes. If you live in areas prone to a certain kind of disaster, check with your insurance agent to make sure you have adequate coverage for that specific event. For example, regular insurance does not cover floods; you must purchase flood insurance for coverage of flood-related damages.

If you are a renter, purchase renter's insurance to protect yourself against loss of your possessions.

  • Protect your records. Important family documents belong in a watertight bin, easily portable and protected against the elements.
  • Site-specific plans. Familiarize yourself with site-specific plans for schools, daycare providers, workplaces and other establishments that involve your family. In the Baltimore region, all public schools now have their own emergency plans.

Getting Reliable Information

Getting through a disaster requires that you have reliable sources of information. Local news stations are vital tools used by emergency managers for getting information to you. Every household should have a battery-powered radio so it can monitor the news if the power goes out.

A weather alert radio, also called a hazard alert radio, is a particularly useful tool, especially if you live in coastal or other disaster-prone areas where emergenies can happen without warning. Hazard alert radios can provide specific area messaging for weather related events and even some civil emergencies. These radios will alert you any time of the day or night, if a tornado, flooding or other disaster suddenly threatens.

Other sources of information:

  • Local emergency management web sites.
  • Government access cable TV; some local jurisdictions now can interrupt regular programming with emergency messages.
  • Reverse 911. Emergency managers may use automated calling systems to notify citizens by telephone of emergencies.
  • E-mail alerts. Some local jurisdictions have systems that allow citizens to subscribe to emergency alerts.

Stay or Go?

During any emergency, listen to instructions from state and local authorities about whether to evacuate or stay put.

Evacuation. In our region, evacuations most commonly are used to get people out of flood-prone areas during a tropical storm or hurricane, or to clear an area where there has been a gas leak. Some jurisdictions have designated evacuation routes; others do not, because the evacuation route would depend on th enature and location of the emergency. Contact your local emergency management office for more information.

If local authorities encourage you to leave a certain area for reasons of safety, you should follow their advice. If you choose to stay behind, rescue units may not be able to return to the area to help you if the situation worsens.

Sheltering in place. Many emergencies in our region will require you to "shelter in place" -- to stay put, secured in an indoor location. Resist the urge to flee if emergency managers issue a shelter-in-place advisory; some types of emergencies -- releases of toxic chemicals, for example -- make exposure to the outside dangerous. During a disaster involving a hazardous material, you may be advised not only to stay indoors but to "seal the room" against outside contaminants.

Site-Specific Plans

Schools, daycare providers, workplaces, neighborhoods and apartment buildings should all have site-specific emergency plans. In the Baltimore region, all public schools now have their own emergency plans.

You should ask about plans at the places where your family spends the most time: work, school and other places you frequent. Familiarize yourself with these plans.

If your employer, school or other establishment does not have a plan, express your concerns. You may want to volunteer to help create one.

Preparing for an Emergency: What Supplies Do I Need?

Emergency management leaders throughout the region say that every household in the Baltimore region should have supplies to last for 72 hours after a disaster. Begin by purchasing the supplies that are most important.

Water Flashlight Radio icons

The Three Essentials

You should be ready to manage the most common crises affecting our region – weather-related power and water outages – if you have certain basic supplies. Buy these three essentials first:

  • A battery-powered radio with extra batteries. If the power goes out, a battery-powered radio is the only way to receive information.
  • Flashlights or battery-powered lanterns with extra batteries. These are essential even during relatively brief power outages. (Don't use candles! They pose a serious fire risk.)
  • Water to last three days. That’s at least one gallon per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Mark the date on the container, and replace it every six months.

Next On The List

Once you have the three essentials, add to your kit by purchasing an item or two every week during trips to grocery and home supply stores.

These items should rank high on your priority list:

  • Enough non-perishable food to last for three days. Good choices include canned meats, fruits and vegetables; peanut butter; crackers; cookies; and canned or boxed juices. Don’t forget to stockpile extra baby food and formula if you have an infant or toddler.
  • A manual can opener. You can’t open canned foods without one.
  • A first aid kit. The kit should include sterile gauze and bandages, safety pins, tweezers, a needle, scissors, antiseptic ointment, petroleum jelly and sunscreen.
  • A waterproof, portable container for important papers.

Other Useful Supplies

Once you have the most important supplies, continue to build your inventory of emergency tools. Make a master checklist and buy an item or two each week.

After you have collected the basics at home, construct a similar, smaller supply kit for your car in case you need to leave home or are caught away from home during an emergency. Make sure you carry jumper cables and tire chains or traction mats.

Disaster Supply Checklist

A 7-Week Plan

You may want to consider this plan, developed by Baltimore County, for building a complete preparedness kit by purchasing a few items every week for seven weeks.

For more information:
Laura Van Wert, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 410-732-9564.