Important Things to Do in Preparation for the Unexpected

“Prepared, not scared” is this year’s theme for National Preparedness Month, which kicked off earlier this month.

Since its inception in 2004, National Preparedness Month occurs annually in September as a reminder to be prepared for the unexpected, such as earthquakes, extreme weather and other emergency situations.

The SFPUC has emergency preparedness and response procedures in place to address and respond to all incidents and emergencies. A dedicated team at the SFPUC, Emergency Planning and Security, helps identify and mitigate hazards and risks and to prepare effectively to respond to incidents in order to ensure that the SFPUC can carry out its mission. The team’s responsibilities include reinforcing preparedness across the Agency, assisting with emergency evacuation drills, managing an emergency floor warden program at its facilities, and partnering with other key agencies to support preparedness and response across the City.

A photo of an emergency kit.

Samira Nuru, SFPUC Emergency Planning Analyst, stresses the importance of having an emergency plan and a go-bag ready at home, work and in the car.

“It’s really important to practice your emergency plan with family and loved ones. Know how to get in touch and meet with them after a disaster happens,” said Nuru. “Consider what could happen if our cell phones won’t work. A tech down situation could very well happen after a major earthquake or storm.”

The SFPUC advises to take the following actions when being prepared for an emergency:

  • Water – Have at least one gallon per person per day for a minimum of three days. Be sure to include water for pets. Replace the emergency water supply every six months and store it in a food-grade container. In the event the emergency water supply runs out, treat tap water by boiling it for three minutes or disinfect by adding eights drops of bleach per gallon of water.
  • Emergency plan – Create or update an emergency plan and practice with family and friends. Be sure to know what to do in the event a tech down situation happens.
  • Emergency kit – Gather all essential supplies and make sure to periodically update the materials.

The SFPUC also encourages everyone who visits, lives or works in San Francisco to sign up to receive emergency alerts from the San Francisco Department of Emergency Management. It only takes a few minutes to sign up and the notifications help subscribers understand emergency situations that are happening.

National Preparedness Month culminates on September 30 with National Preparedness Day, the national day of action.

An example of an emergency checklist. Photo courtesy: San Francisco Department of Emergency Management (