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Preparing for emergencies

September is Preparedness Month: Be informed - Make a plan - Get equipped

September is Preparedness Month, the national #30Days30WaysUK campaign of preparedness activities highlights the importance of being prepared when it comes to local and national risks like power cuts, severe weather and flooding. For more resources visit:

What is preparedness?

Preparedness is the steps you take to make sure you are safe before, during and after an emergency. Emergencies can happen with little or no warning, help will arrive but may take some time. Having a plan will enable you to respond and act accordingly if there is any kind of unexpected, serious and/or dangerous occurrence.

The GOV.UK Preparing for Emergencies website provides guidance to help people, businesses and communities identify and prepare for the hazards and threats that may disrupt their lives including:

  • What risks should you plan for?
  • Prepare yourself for emergencies
  • Prepare your business for emergencies
  • Prepare your community for emergencies

The Hertfordshire Resilience partnership provides information on preparing for emergencies: Are you ready for anything?

What is resilience?

Resilience is also often referred to as ‘bounce back-ability’ because it describes an individual, organisation or community’s ability to respond to and recover following an emergency or natural disaster. Resilience describes the capacity to withstand adversity and move forward from difficult or dangerous events.

Be informed - Know the risks

Consider the following to help you make your own emergency plan for you or your family:

The risks present in North Hertfordshire have been identified in the Hertfordshire Risk Register, national risks are described in the government National Risk Register. Identify the risks that are around you and your home, for example do you live on a flood plain, under a flight path or near a railway line?

Make a plan

Discuss with your family how you would stay in contact in the event of an emergency. If you had to evacuate, do you have friends or relatives outside the area to stay with? Do you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours that would need your assistance in an emergency? Find out where and how to turn off the utility supplies in your home and have equipment available to do so e.g. a wrench if needed.

Find out the emergency procedure for your children’s school. Make sure you know the emergency procedure for your workplace.

Make a kit

Prepare a household emergency kit and a smaller personal kit e.g. in a backpack for use should you need to be evacuated. Make sure everyone knows where the kits are kept. To create an emergency kit look at what resources you use daily and are essential to you and your family and consider what you would do if these became scarce or unavailable.

Consider the basics (plan for at least three days)

  • Water: for drinking and hygiene purposes at least 2.5 litres per person per day with small drink containers that can be carried with you.
  • Food: non-perishable items such as canned food (with a can opener), cereal, fruit bars (ensure they are kept up to date).
  • Supplies for child care e.g. bottles, powdered milk.
  • Food, water and supplies for your pets.
  • First Aid Kit and manual.
  • Battery or dynamo (wind-up) powered radio.
  • Battery or dynamo powered torch.
  • Matches in a waterproof container.
  • Spare batteries.
  • Notepad and pencil.
  • Whistle.
  • Tools to turn off utility supplies.
  • Local maps.
  • Rubbish bags with plastic ties, moist wipes.
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting, duct tape.

Consider what specific needs you or your family have

  • Prescription medicines (ensure stored items are kept up to date), prescription glasses, hearing aid batteries.
  • Non-prescription items such as pain relief tablets and medication for an upset stomach or diarrhoea.
  • Toiletries and sanitary items.
  • Change of clothes, waterproof clothing and boots. Shoes and blankets.
  • Documentation in a waterproof container (e.g. identification, bank account details, birth certificates, insurance documents, passport, benefit and pension details).
  • Eating utensils, paper towels, paper cups and plates.
  • Disinfectant
  • Fire extinguisher.
  • Emergency phone numbers e.g. school, doctor's surgery, relatives, friends, vets.
  • List of Local Radio Station frequencies.
  • Mobile phone.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Books, games for children.

Go in, Stay in, Tune in (Shelter-in-Place)

If you are close to an incident or believe you are in danger, unless you are told otherwise by the emergency services:

Go In - Go inside and close doors and windows
Stay In - Stay inside for as long as it is safe to do so – depending on the incident, stay away from doors and windows
Tune In - Tune in to your local radio station, TV or internet news channels for information and advice. If there is a major emergency radio and TV companies will give public safety advice and information on the incident.

There will be times when it is not safe to ‘go in’ – for example if there is a fire or if you are advised to take alternative action by the emergency services.


Further information on evacuation is provided on the Emergency Assistance Centres page.

ICE (In Case of Emergency)

Store the emergency contact details for your family on your phone under the acronym “ICE” (In Case of Emergency). This will enable the emergency services to find out who to contact if you are injured in an incident and cannot tell them. More than one contact can be added by numbering each contact, e.g. ICE 1.

Counter terrorism advice and guidance

The Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire Counter Terrorism Security Advisors have issued general advice about open spaces, crowded places and events. ProtectUK is a new central hub for counter terrorism and security advice.