September is National Preparedness Month - Photo of an Emergency Preparedness Kit in a Blue Container

Frequently Asked Questions

The Ready Campaign

Q: What is the Ready Campaign?
A: Ready is a national public service advertising campaign designed to educate and empower Americans to prepare for and respond to emergencies including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks. The goal of the campaign is to get the public involved and ultimately to increase the level of basic preparedness across the nation.

Ready asks individuals to do three key things: get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan and be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses. Individuals can visit or call 1–800–BE–READY for information about emergency preparedness.

Q: What does the Ready Campaign include?
A: The Ready Campaign includes a general consumer campaign called Ready America. In addition, the campaign has extensions for pet owners, older Americans, and individuals with disabilities and other special needs. In 2004, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Ad Council launched Ready Business, an extension of the Ready Campaign that focuses on business preparedness. Ready Business helps owners and managers of small to medium–sized businesses prepare their employees, operations and assets in the event of an emergency.

In 2006, DHS launched Ready Kids, a tool to help parents and teachers educate children, ages 8 – 12, about emergencies and how they can help get their family prepared. Listo is the Spanish–language version of the Ready Campaign. Visit for information in Spanish, or call 1–888–SE–LISTO. In addition, some state and local Offices of Emergency Management have translated preparedness information into additional languages. To find resources in your area, visit

National Preparedness Month (NPM)

Q: What is NPM?
A: Sponsored by DHS' Ready Campaign, and with support from Coalition Members across the nation, NPM is held each September to increase public awareness about emergency preparedness. During the month, Americans are encouraged to participate by hosting activities and initiatives. In 2007, more than 1,800 organizations joined the Ready Campaign as Coalition Members, making it the most successful year to date. For more information about NPM, visit the Ready Web site:

Q: How can I better prepare myself and my family for an emergency?
A: The Ready Campaign and its DHS partner Citizen Corps ask Americans to take four steps: get an emergency supply kit, make a family emergency plan, be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses, and get involved in the community. More information, including an emergency supply kit checklist and a family emergency plan template, is available on the Ready Web site ( or by calling 1-800-BE-READY.

Q: What should be included in an emergency supply kit?
A: In a basic emergency supply kit, the Ready Campaign recommends including the following:

  • One gallon of water per person per day, for three days – remember to include enough for your pets, too
  • At least a three–day supply of non–perishable food. Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water and choose foods your family will eat: ready–to–eat canned meats, peanut butter, protein or fruit bars, dry cereal or granola. Also pack a manual can opener and eating utensils
  • Battery–powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter–in–place
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps

Ready also encourages an individual to think about the special needs of family members:

  • Prescription medications and glasses
  • Infant formula and diapers
  • Pet food, extra water for your pet, leash and collar
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
  • Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
For a complete list of items, we encourage people to visit to download a free emergency supply checklist or call 1–800–BE–READY.

Q: How can I develop a family emergency plan?
A: Preparing a family emergency plan is simple. You can get started by using a free family emergency plan template available at A family emergency plan can help a family to stay in contact if they are separated during an emergency.

Q: How can I stay informed about emergencies?
A: It's important that you know the potential emergencies that can happen in your state, region and community. Go to and click on Ready America, then Community and States Information to find out more information about your local area. For specific questions about the area where you live, contact your state or local Office of Emergency Management. Ready recommends including a battery operated radio, such as a NOAA radio with tone alert, to stay apprised of developments during emergencies. It is always important to listen to and follow the advice of local officials in the event of an emergency.

Q: How can I talk to kids about emergency preparedness?
A: The Ready Kids Web site focuses on weather–related emergencies and help parents educate children, ages 8–12, about emergencies and how they can help their families prepare. DHS encourages parents to visit the web site with their children. In addition, DHS has developed Ready Kids in–school materials for teachers which are available at or by calling 1–800–BE–READY.

The Ready Campaign consulted a number of organizations experienced in education and children's health including the American Psychological Association, American Red Cross, U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to develop Ready Kids. Together, these experts agree that it is appropriate to reach children, parents and teachers to discuss potential emergencies and how to be prepared.

Q: How can pet owners prepare for emergencies?
A: Pet owners should assemble an emergency supply kit that includes enough pet food and water for three days, medications and medical records, leashes, ID tags and other appropriate supplies. It's also recommended that pet owners have an emergency plan which considers the needs of their pets and they learn more about the types of emergencies that could happen in their area and the appropriate responses. Pet owners can download a free brochure from the Ready web site at, or request a copy by calling 1–800–BE–READY.

The Ready Campaign consulted with a number of organizations experienced in animal health and well–being to develop Ready for Pet Owners information. These organizations include American Kennel Club, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, American Veterinary Medical Association and Humane Society of the United States.

Q: How can older Americans and individuals with disabilities and other special needs prepare for emergencies?
A: Ready encourages individuals to make an emergency supply kit including food and water, medications and medical records, and personal items such as eyeglasses, hearing aids, wheelchair batteries and other appropriate supplies. Ready also recommends that individuals develop an emergency plan that considers their unique needs and a personal support network they can call upon in the event of an emergency. To learn more, visit for a free brochure or call 1–800–BE–READY.

The Ready Campaign consulted with a number of organizations experienced in the health and well–being of older Americans and individuals with disabilities and other special needs to develop Ready information tailored to their unique needs. These organizations include AARP, American Red Cross and the National Organization on Disability.

Q: What steps should businesses take to prepare?
A: Ready Business is designed to inform owners and managers of small– and medium–sized business about what they can do to prepare their businesses in the event of an emergency. The goal of this program is to raise the business community's awareness of the need for emergency planning and motivate them to: plan to stay in business; talk to their employees; and protect their investment.

Ready Business was developed by the Ready Campaign and launched in partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Small Business Administration, Society of Human Resource Management, The Business Roundtable, The 9/11 Public Discourse Project, ASIS International, Business Executives for National Security, International Safety Equipment Association, International Security Management Association, National Association of Manufacturers, National Federation of Independent Businesses and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. For more information about business emergency preparedness visit, and click on Ready Business.

Citizen Corps

Q: What is Citizen Corps?
A: Citizen Corps is a grassroots initiative to strengthen America's communities and increase their resiliency to the wide array of natural and man-made hazards that threaten our safety and security. The program was created by the President in 2002 and is headquartered in the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Community Preparedness Division. Inspired by the vast outpouring of spontaneous volunteer support after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Citizen Corps strives to answer the essential questions "What can I do?" and "How can I help?" in a meaningful way. Citizen Corps does this by providing local opportunities for Americans of all abilities to prepare, train and volunteer to help address all types of natural and man-made hazards. Please visit for more information.

Q: What is the Citizen Corps mission?
A: Citizen Corps' mission is to bring community and government leaders together to coordinate the involvement of community members and non-governmental resources in emergency preparedness, planning, mitigation, response, and recovery.

Q: How does Citizen Corps work?
A: With so many different roles and functions to play in an emergency, successful response and recovery must be supported by well-coordinated planning, training, and preparation. Citizen Corps Councils are designed to bring together government, community leaders, first responders, emergency managers, businesses, non-profit and volunteer organizations, and other groups with a direct interest in strengthening their communities. When disaster strikes, everyone knows what their role is, who they need to coordinate with, and how to get support where and when it is needed most.

Q: Where are Citizen Corps Councils located?
A: More than 2,200 state, local, tribal and territorial governments in all 56 states and U.S. territories have formed Citizen Corps Councils, and every day new Councils are formed in communities around the country. These Councils help drive local citizen preparedness and participation by assessing possible threats, identifying local resources, developing community action plans, and coordinating Citizen Corps programs to train and exercise volunteers. To find a Council near you, visit

Q: What are Citizen Corps Partner Programs and Affiliates?
A: Citizen Corps works with five national Partner Programs through partnerships with other federal agencies and national organizations. The five programs — Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC), Fire Corps, USA On Watch/ Neighborhood Watch (NWP), and Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) — provide national resources for training and exercising citizens at the state and local levels. In addition, 25 Citizen Corps Affiliate Programs and Organizations offer community resources for public education, outreach, and training; represent volunteers interested in helping to make their community safer; or offer volunteer service opportunities to support first responders, disaster relief activities, and community safety efforts. Visit for more information. Department of Homeland Security