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Personal and Family Preparedness

Our area is susceptible to all forms of natural and human-caused disasters. A winter storm could confine families to their homes. A hazardous material spill on one of our highways could cause the need for evacuations. A severe storm could cut off water, electricity, telephone, and other services we all rely on in our day-to-day living.   

Let us help you prepare for an emergency by completing this year's
Prepare In A Year Campaign. Choose one hour each month to complete the designated activity for each month. 

The residents and businesses of Tacoma play an important role in the effort to prepare Tacoma for disaster. Under normal circumstances, the City has emergency services in place to handle the types and quantity of emergencies that are experienced within the city daily. However, in the event of a disaster or large-scale emergency, such as a major earthquake or terrorist attack, the City’s limited emergency response resources must prioritize their activities. Depending upon the scope and extent of the emergency, residents may find it necessary to be self-sufficient for as many as 14 days while emergency responders recover, organize resources, assess the overall situation, and deal with the most urgent needs in the city. Safe, secure, and prepared individuals, families, and households are often less dependent on response services, which, in turn, places fewer responders in hazardous response situations. Those who prepare will reduce their stress, be able to reach out to others in need of assistance, and be better positioned to actively contribute to post-disaster response and recovery efforts.


Let us help you become more prepared, download the Tacoma Prepared mobile app today, and access tailored and personalized features to better prepare you and our community. 


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Tacoma Prepared


The Tacoma Prepared (UNITE by QuickSeries©) mobile app is an emergency management tool that serves to unite community members and promote solidarity all year round. The app delivers accurate information and resources during an emergency and can be used to enhance preparation, communicate news, and motivate action. 

With Tacoma Prepared, Emergency Management can: 

  • Provide trusted content that promotes personal wellness.
  • Map out hazard zones, routes to safety, and locations of essential services.
  • Prepare individuals and families with personalized emergency plans, checklists, and assessments.
  • Inform users through public education-driven videos.

Although not formally part of emergency management operations, individuals, families, and households play an important role in emergency preparedness; each can be better prepared in the immediate aftermath of a disaster if they start some of the following actions.


Prepare a disaster supply kit containing, at the very minimum, the following supplies: 

  • A supply of dry or canned food and drinking water for 14 days (for each person in your household). Plan to use one gallon of water per person per day.
  • A manually-operated can opener if your stored food is canned
  • A battery-powered radio with extra batteries. Local news radio stations include KPLU 88.5 FM, KUOW 94.9 FM, KIRO 710 AM, KIRO 97.3 FM, and KOMO 1000 AM
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • A first aid kit (and knowledge of how to use it).
  • A 14 day supply of required medication (for each person in your household)
  • A home disaster kit should be stored in an easily accessible location near an exit or in an outdoor shed. If you spend a significant amount of time in your car or at work, you should also have appropriate disaster supplies for these locations.

Sign up for emergency alerts. 

  • Register with the Tacoma Alert to receive emergency alerts. The City of Tacoma is able to send you emergency alerts via text message, email, and/or voice mail, based on your selected preferences. Sign up online.

Establish an out-of-state contact before a disaster strikes. Immediately following a disaster, local phone service can quickly become overwhelmed. Yet during these outages, it is often still possible to make phone calls to people living out of the area. Your out-of-state contact can be used by all members of your household to provide and receive updates. 


Make emergency plans for your household and practice them. 

  • Fire: Everyone in your household should know two ways out of each room in your home. Establish a place outside of your home where everyone will meet after exiting. 
  • Earthquake: Everyone in your household should know what to do during an earthquake, “Drop, Cover and Hold” (get under a piece of furniture, hold on to the furniture so it does not move from covering you, and wait for the shaking to stop). Do not exit your house or building during an earthquake because you may be hit by falling objects, such as bricks or other parts of the structure, electrical wires, or tree limbs. Be aware that aftershocks may happen once the initial quake is over. 

Know how to turn off your utilities (water, electricity, and natural gas) in the event you have to do so in an emergency. 


Learn the disaster procedures at your child's school or daycare. There are policies and procedures for releasing students during or after a disaster, and for locking down the facility and providing for the students' welfare should they need to stay at the school for a while. Parents and caregivers need to know and understand these procedures ahead of time and follow them when implemented. 


Consider taking advantage of emergency training that may help you and your family in a disaster or emergency. 

  • CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)Tacoma residents can learn this life-saving skill for free by calling Tacoma Fire Department. Preregistration is required, call (253) 594-7979. Class schedules can be found through the Tacoma Fire Department.
  • First Aid: This training is available through the local American Red Cross chapter at 253-474-0400.
  • CERT (Community Emergency Response Teams): This disaster response training teaches the skills necessary to respond to emergency needs in your neighborhood during the time that professional responders are unable to reach you after an emergency. It is available free of charge to all Tacoma residents, including people with disabilities and access and functional needs. You can get this training through the Tacoma Fire Department/Emergency Management, submit a CERT Interest Form (in the Submit Forms module of the Tacoma Prepared app) or visit our CERT webpage for more information.

Map Your Neighborhood 

This national preparedness program helps residents pre-determine assets and resources immediately available to them following a disaster. For more information on this program, visit: http://www.emd.wa.gov/myn 


Special Needs Considerations 

  • Utilize the Buddy System - If you are disabled, elderly, or otherwise in need of special assistance, designate an individual to be responsible for making contact with you following a disaster.
  • Consider registering with the City Emergency Management Program. Doing so allows emergency managers to include your special needs in the planning process for emergency response. You can register by contacting the Tacoma Fire Department/Emergency Management at EmergencyManagement@cityoftacoma.org.
  • Notify Tacoma Public Utilities before a disaster occurs if a loss of power would disproportionately affect the safety or well-being of you or someone in your household (e.g., ventilator dependency, etc.). This allows TPU staff to prioritize restoring power to your home. Contact Tacoma Public Utilities at 253-502-8600.