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Preparing for Emergencies

Disaster often strikes quickly and without warning.  It can force you to evacuate your neighbourhood or confine you to your home. The likelihood of you and your family surviving a house fire depends as much on having a working smoke detector and an exit plan as on a well-trained Fire & Rescue Service.

The same is true for surviving any other disaster.  While emergency services will get to you within the quickest time possible, in the event of a major disaster it may be some time before you receive a response. You should therefore prepare now to meet your own basic needs until help arrives. 

Make a Plan – Make a Kit

Just like having a first aid kit in your home/car, having an emergency plan and kit will put the tools you need at your fingertips. This basic emergency kit will help you get through the first 72 hours of an emergency.

Make a list of all the items to go in your emergency kit and where they are located. Keep this list where it can be easily found. Items in your list should include:

  • Food & water - bottled water in case your water supply is switched off and high energy foods that won't spoil such as cereal bars/chocolate
  • Mobile phone, batteries and charger
  • Utility pocket knife and/or manual can opener
  • Flashlight (and batteries) or wind-up torch
  • Battery-powered or wind-up radio (and extra batteries)
  • Basic first aid kit
  • Prescription medication
  • Infant formula and nappies/wipes
  • Wash kit – to include toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes etc
  • Special equipment for people with disabilities e.g. nebuliser, oxygen, mobility aids
  • Extra keys – for your car and house
  • Money and credit/debit cards
  • Whistle to attract attention
  • Emergency Plan 

Personal Information (can be kept electronically)

ICE (In Case of Emergency) enter ICE in your mobile contact list with the name of the person you want the emergency services to call on your behalf. Also keep telephone numbers for Doctors, Vets, and Kennel/Cattery. Plan how to stay in contact during an emergency. Perhaps everyone could call/email/text or, if safe to do so, go to a designated friend or relative elsewhere.

You may want to keep electronic details of insurance policies, passport, driver's licence, National Insurance number etc, provided they are kept in a secure safe place. 

Flooding – Be Prepared

  • Cover air bricks and doors with waterproof tape/plastic before positioning sandbags.
  • Assess your risk from river and tidal flooding by visiting www.gov.uk/environment-agency or calling the Environment Agency's Floodline on 0345 988 1188. If you're at risk, register by phone or online for the Environment Agency's free flood warning service.  Keep the Floodline number and quick dial code handy for updates.
  • The risk from ground water flooding is difficult to predict but more prevalent in low lying areas and chalk catchments in the east of Kent
  • Check your insurance to confirm you're covered, and for the right amount.
  • Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water. If in doubt, consult your supplier.
  • Put stickers on taps and switches you need to turn off, so it's easier to remember - and quicker.
  • Think about pets, cars, furniture, electrical equipment and garden furniture.
  • If you're at risk, buy flood protection equipment in advance. See www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk  or at least cover air bricks, doors and patio doors with waterproof plastic and tape 

If flooding happens

  • Tune in to your local radio station or call Floodline for updates.
  • Report property flooding or river blockages to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.
  • If safe to do so, turn off gas, electricity and water mains before water enters your home.
  • Put plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down.
  • Move your family and pets to a higher position with a means of escape – remember to take your kit.
  • Don't touch sources of electricity when standing in water.
  • Never drive through flood water.
  • Eighty per cent of flood deaths occur in vehicles.
  • If there's raw sewage in your property, keep out. See if you can stay elsewhere until it's been cleansed 

After a flood

  • Find out if it's safe to return to your property by checking the media and local authority website.
  • Check falling river levels via Floodline 0345 988 1188 and theEnvironment Agency website
  • Contact your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice.
  • If you can get in to your property, take photographs for evidence.
  • Protect against contamination – always wear waterproof outer-wear, wellingtons and gloves.
  • Have your electricity supply checked before switching back on.
  • Have your gas or oil central heating checked by a qualified person.
  • Your local council may provide advice for clearing flood damaged household items 

Severe Storms and High Winds

  • Secure or store loose objects outside.
  • Close and fasten doors and windows securely.
  • Park vehicles in a garage or well away from trees, buildings, walls and fences.
  • Stay indoors as much as possible - don't go outside to repair damage during a storm.
  • Find shelter in a substantial, permanent, enclosed building.
  • Slow down if driving on exposed routes, such as across bridges or find alternative, less exposed routes if possible.
  • Take particular care of side winds if driving a high-sided vehicle or if you're towing another vehicle or container.
  • Don't touch electrical or phone cables that have blown down or are hanging loose. 

Heavy Snow and Extreme Cold

  • Make sure you've enough insulation around your water tank(s), loft and external water pipes.
  • Check you have de-icer, salt/grit and the necessary tools to keep your home safe and clear of snow.
  • Keep heating to the right temperature eg 18°C/65°F bedroom and 21°C/70°F living area.
  • Register for cold weather alerts by emailing cold_weather_alerts@dh.gsi.gov.uk
  • Wear practical footwear, a hat and several layers to avoid losing heat
  • Consider whether you really need to make the journey.
  • If snow or ice is forecast, make sure you and your car are fully prepared
  • Take warm clothes, food, water, fully charged mobile phone, torch, spade and possibly a reflective jacket.
  • Try to wait for roads to be treated/ gritted before setting off (remember, not all roads will be treated).
  • If you get stuck, stay with your car and tie something brightly coloured to the aerial.
  • Consider getting together with neighbours to clear footpaths and community areas
  • Check for winter health advice and information at NHS Choices
  • Check Kent County Council's winter service web pages for advice

Power Cut

There are things you can do to prepare for and stay safe and comfortable during a power cut.

  • Make sure your energy supplier is aware of any specialist requirements, for example if you are supported by medical equipment in your home
  • Keep your freezer door closed.  Freezer foods can last up to 24 hours
  • Keep warm by staying in one room and wearing several layers of clothing
  • Keep an eye on any elderly or ill neighbours and encourage them to register with their utility provider if you think they are vulnerable
  • Never leave candles or heating appliances in unoccupied rooms.
  • Assume that your supplier is aware of widespread power cuts, but if your neighbours have power and you do not, call the supplier.
  • For your safety, stay away from fallen lines, flooded areas and debris
  • If using your own generator please be careful to follow safe operating procedures.  Never run them inside your home
  • Check your circuit breaker 

Go in, Stay in, Tune in

  • The "Go in, Stay in, Tune in" advice is recognised and used around the world.  It is the best general advice for people caught up in most emergencies.
  • Monitor local broadcasts for the latest information or advice on local radio stations:
    • Radio Kent - 96.7 and 104.2 FM
    • Heart - 103.1 and 102.8 FM
    • KMFM - 96.4 and 106.8 FM
  • Follow advice/instructions given by Emergency Services personnel on the ground.
  • Continue to monitor the situation outside and your own particular circumstances. 


The plan should make arrangements for the care of pets. This might include:

  • Pre-arrangements for a friend to look after them if you cannot, or identify kennels and "pet-friendly" hotels in your area
  • Carry a photo of your pet to help identify them in case you get separated
  • Have supplies for your pet ready to take with you in case of evacuation
  • If evacuated don't forget any leashes, harnesses or baskets so your pet can be comfortable
  • Identify your pet with current identification tag on their collar or carrier 


  • Remember mobile communication may be difficult or unavailable.
  • Leave a note in your home informing your family/friends where you have gone.
  • Pre-identify a meeting place to reunite with family/friends.
  • Shut off gas and electricity before leaving the premises. Secure windows and lock doors.
  • Inform the emergency services if you have a medical condition that might make evacuation difficult or you are using specialist medical equipment at home. 

Children and Vulnerable Adults

Find out what plans the school/day-care centre have to respond to an emergency.

  • Where would they evacuate to?
  • Are they prepared to shelter in the school?
  • Your plan should designate a person to pick up children should you be unavailable.
  • Confirm these arrangements with the school/day-care centre. 

Health Information

  • The plan should list the names and contact details of your GP, Community Nurse and other healthcare professionals you have contact with on a regular basis.
  • Have a list of any prescription medication that family members are taking.
  • List any chronic illnesses/disabilities of family members.

Useful 24/7 Telephone Numbers

  • Kent County Council:0300 041 9191
  • Kent Highway & Transportation Services:0300 041 8181
  • Environment Agency Floodline:0345 988 1188 
  • NHS 111: 111
  • Gas Emergency:0800 111 999
  • Electricity Emergency - UK Power networks: 0800 316 3105
  • Southern Water:0330 303 0368
  • Affinity Water:0345 357 2407

Useful Websites

Mind your Own Business!

  • Are you in Business?
  • Have you planned to survive a business disruption?
  • Why should I have a Business Continuity Plan?

Every year, nearly one in five businesses suffers a major disruption and planning to deal with potential disruptions is widely regarded as good business sense. Consider, for instance, what you would do if your business premises were not available for a few hours, a few days, or a few weeks. That is business continuity planning.

No matter how large or small, every business operating in Dover district contributes to the economic wellbeing of the community. Business continuity planning will help secure your business future, maintain your customer base and preserve employment for you and your staff. 

Can I afford not to have a contingency plan?

In most cases Business Continuity Planning can be done by you or your staff using information freely available on the Internet. With this information you can:

  • Identify your essential resources
  • Use a ten minute checklist to assess how prepared you are
  • Download free templates, checklists and more
  • Access business continuity advice

Review case studies of companies who have been affected by major business interruption

You and your staff know your business better than anyone else so no-one is better placed to identify risks and prepare it to recover from a crisis with the minimum amount of downtime.