Personal Preparations

The chances of you being caught up in a major emergency or disaster are low. Nevertheless it may happen, and if you are prepared it will be easier to protect yourself and others.

What is a major emergency?

Essentially a major emergency is something on a scale that needs special arrangements to deal with it, such as:

  • Serious transport accidents
  • Extreme weather
  • Major crime/terrorism/public disorder
  • Explosion/fire/industrial accident
  • Toxic chemical spill/radioactive release
  • Shortages of essential supplies – water, food, power
  • Infectious disease outbreak

The emergency services, local authorities, health trusts, voluntary agencies and utility companies all have coordinated emergency plans in place. The aim is to save life, contain the hazard, protect the public and return to normality as soon as possible, but the task is made easier if the public also know what to do in an emergency.

Being prepared for a major emergency also means that you can deal more effectively with minor ones. In most situations you will either need to take shelter from the threat or hazard or move right away from it, so it makes sense to have a plan to do both. Useful steps you can take beforehand include:

  • Make a list of important contacts such as family, friends and neighbours, your children's school, GP, veterinary surgery, utilities. Carry this in your wallet or handbag and keep copies handy at home, work and in the car
  • Arrange for a friend or relative out of your area to be the family contact point in case your family becomes separated in an emergency
  • Make up an emergency pack for home and the car and perhaps work
  • Know how to turn off your gas, water and electricity
  • Even if you listen to other stations, know how to tune into your local radio station for public information in an emergency
  • Check your insurance cover is up to date
  • If your home is in a flood risk area, keep a stock of sandbags and sand

Emergency pack

Prepare an emergency pack containing:

  • A battery powered radio
  • Torch with spare batteries
  • First aid kit
  • A copy of your contact list
  • Bottled water

If you need to be evacuated, your list may include:

  • Your emergency pack
  • Warm clothing
  • Essential medication and personal items (glasses)
  • Baby food, nappies
  • Wallet, purse and bank cards
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Pet carrier, collar and lead (take pets with you)
Emergency Evacuation of Property

Evacuation of property will only happen in extreme circumstances. If you are asked to evacuate:

  • Don't panic – remain calm – stop to think!
  • Act speedily
  • Check on neighbours – do they know
  • Respond to instructions from the emergency services
  • Report to the specified location and await further guidance
  • Special arrangements will be made for the care of the sick and elderly
  • Use the checklist below
Evacuation checklist:
  • Assemble family and pets
  • Turn off gas, water, electricity and all household appliances
  • If you have time, make sure open fires are put out or at least guarded
  • Get together warm clothing and sleeping bags, blankets or duvets
  • Get together medicines in use and special foods for babies – remember food for pets
  • Secure and lock your property
  • Do not return home until are told to do so
  • On your return, do not use gas or other appliances unless it is safe to do so

West Somerset in partnership with the other authorities within Somerset have produced a leaflet to help people prepare for emergencies.  To download a copy, click on the link under Related Documents.