Emergency Preparedness

Why Prepare for a Disaster?

Remember: Always call 911 if a person(s) is seriously injured or in danger!

A disaster can strike without warning, forcing you to go for days without basic necessities or to evacuate your home. Relief workers will be on the scene following a disaster, but may not be able to reach you immediately.  If the situation is wide-spread you could be on your own for several days.

You need to be prepared to take care of you and your family.

Knowing the steps to take during a disaster–whether flooding, tornadoes, earthquakes, power outage or another crisis–can greatly reduce the danger and distress your family may face.

Sit down with your family and create a written plan.  There are templates below for creating a plan as well as checklists for items you should have in a home emergency kit, vehicle bags as well as templates for emergency contact information.

Be Informed

You can now receive notifications from the City through our mass notification system.  You have the option of also receiving weather alerts from the National Weather Service that impact our area as well as indicating if you would need assistance if there was a need to evacuate the area you live in.

Messages are sent in English and Spanish.

To sign up go to http://hyper-reach.com/pacityofyorksignup.html  or use the QR code by holding your camera over the code then pressing the link when it appears.  You can also sign up by sending the word “alert” to 717-428-7333

Creating a Basic Emergency Plan

Emergency Preparedness Guide - English Emergency Preparedness Guide - Spanish

Having a plan is one of the most important steps you can take in disaster preparedness. Knowing what to do and how to do it can help your family manage disasters with less worry, fear and uncertainty.

  • Decide what you and your family would do in each potential emergency situation.
  • Draw a floor plan of your home showing escape routes.
  • Choose a place away from your neighborhood where family members can meet in case you are separated and cannot return home due to a disaster.
  • Identify a friend or relative who lives out of the area for family members to contact if you are separated.
  • Post emergency numbers in every phone and teach children how and when to call 911.
  • Know how to shut off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches in your home.
  • Plan how to help elderly or disabled neighbors in a disaster.
  • Check that your insurance policies are up-to-date and provide good coverage.
  • Write your plan down, use the links above to download a copy or – copies are available in the lobby at City Hall.

Family Emergency Communications Plan

Family Communication Plan for Kids - English Plan de Comunicaciόn Familiar Family Important Information - English Imformaciόn Importante Familiar

Having a written family emergency communications plan is very important.  If your cell phone dies most people don’t know contact phone numbers.  Having emergency information attached to the car seats (in a waterproof bag) is essential – if adult passengers are injured and unable to provide information children are unlike to be able to provide contact information for another parent or trusted adult, or provide emergency medical information such as allergies.

Older children, or even those who go to daycare or pre-school, should all have a copy in their backpacks.

You can use something like a 3×5 card or one of the downloadable forms.

We also now have pocket/wallet emergency information cards, in both English and Spanish, available in the lobby at City Hall.

Preparing a Disaster Supply Kit

Emergency Supply Checklist - English Lista de suministros de emergencia Lis Pwonvizyon Pou Ijans

Having a disaster supply kit ready to take with you at a moment’s notice ensures that you will have necessary supplies no matter how fast you may need to evacuate.

Pack supplies in duffel bags or backpacks (often referred to as a “bug-out bag”) and keep them in a designated place.

Your kit will also come in handy if you must take shelter in your home. This list will help ensure that your disaster supply kit includes all the essentials.

Download one of the checklists above for a more complete list that you can use to build an emergency kit for your home.  This will have additional quantities of supplies and include things like portable heaters, additional food, battery lanterns, etc.

  • Water

    You can survive several days without food, but water is essential for life and health.

    Signs of dehydration include:

    • Fatigue
    • dark-colored urine and low urine output
    • Dry skin and cracked lips
    • A headache


    • Pack at least one gallon per person per day for at least 3 days
    • Store water in tightly sealed, non-breakable plastic, fiberglass or enamel-lined metal containers
    • Change your water every 6 months
    • Have a hand-pump water filter (the kind used by campers and backpackers)

    For CDC guidelines on making water safe to drink please go here 

  • Food
    • Pack enough food to last each family member at least 3 days.
    • Include canned and boxed foods because they require little preparation and stay good for long periods of time. Remember to bring a manual can opener or to buy food in self-opening cans.
    • Pack foods in sealed metal or plastic containers.
    • Rotate your stock, use older items first and replenish with newer items.
    • Include foods for infants and family members with special diets as well as for animals.

    For tips on handling food following a disaster see the links below:
    USDA Food and Nutrition Service 
    Food for emergencies – Ready.gov
    Food Safety in a disaster – Foodsafety.gov



  • Tools & Equipment
    • Battery-powered or hand-crank AM/FM radio
    • Flashlights
    • Spare batteries
    • Resealable plastic bags
    • Washcloths and towels, wet-wipes etc.
    • Paper cups, paper plates, and plastic utensils
    • Toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, deodorant, and other toiletries
    • Heavy-duty plastic garbage bags
    • Change of clothing and an extra pair of shoes and socks for each person
    • Blankets or a sleeping bag for each person
  • Personal Items
    • Personal identification
    • Cash
    • Copies of birth and marriage certificates, inventory or household goods, bank account numbers, and other important documents (or scanned copies on a USB drive)
    • Maps
    • Extra car and house keys
    • Prescription medications
    • Needs for your pets (leash, folding bowl, toy, etc.)
  • First Aid Kit Essentials
    • Adhesive bandages
    • Antacid
    • Antibiotic ointment
    • Antidiarrhea medication
    • Antiseptic
    • Aspirin and non-aspirin pain reliever
    • Cleansing agents (isopropyl alcohol, soap, germicide)
    • Cotton balls
    • First aid manual
    • Gauze pads and roll
    • Non-latex gloves (i.e. Nitrile)
    • Laxative
    • Moist towelettes
    • Needle and safety pins
    • Petroleum jelly
    • Protective masks
    • Scissors
    • Sunscreen
    • Thermometer
    • Tongue depressors
    • Triangular bandages
    • Tweezers

    Take at least a basic first aid class such as those offered by the Red Cross

Be Prepared for Power Outages

In the event of a power outage DO NOT call 9-1-1

You can use this Met-Ed interactive map to see outages in your area and to report an outage

Follow these tips to keep safe:

  • Use a battery lantern and flashlights – DO NOT use open candles
  • Keep freezers and refrigerators closed
    • A refrigerator will keep food cold for about four hours – if the outage is going to be extended use food in your fridge first
    • A full freezer will keep its temperature for about 48 hours
    • Keep a thermometer in your fridge and freezer
    • Throw away any food that has been exposed to temperatures of 40 degrees or higher for 2 hours or more, or if it has an unusual color, odor or texture
  • Only use generators outdoors, out of your garage and away from windows
    • Do not run extension words through water
    • Do not connect your generator to your house electrical box or into outlets (unless you have a transfer switch)
  • Do not use a gas or portable propane stove to heat your home except those approved for that purpose
    • Use camping stoves in a well ventilated area
    • Only use grills outside, away from windows and NOT in your garage
  • Disconnect appliances and electronics to avoid damage from electrical surges when power is restored
  • Have an alternate plan for refrigerating medications or power-dependent medical devices
    • If the power has been out more than a day check with your pharmacist or doctor about using the medication
      • Ask your doctor or pharmacist about this when you get the medication
  • If the weather is excessive check with local emergency management for locations of heating or cooling
    • Sign up for notifications from the City in the “Be Informed” section above
  • Check on your neighbors
  • Take a inventory NOW of items you rely on electricity for
    • Plan an alternative NOW, before there is a power outage
    • Plan and acquire batteries and battery devices, such as flashlights, small battery camping lanterns and small fans
Be Prepared for a Power Outage

Alternate Communications Plan for When All Else Fails

We rely on modern day technology to keep in touch, however during power outages cell phone tower could also be impacted.
Amateur Radio (“ham” radio) is used by emergency management to provide backup communications and will work when cell phones don’t.  Many ham radio operators use hand-held radio, and if using a more powerful radio they have batteries so they can keep operating when the power is out.

Ham radio no longer requires you to learn Morse code.  The “basic” entry license is called Technician and is a 35 question test from a public question pool.

There are a number of resources for free study material, such as https://www.kb6nu.com/study-guides/ (the pdf download is free) and you can practice exams online at hamstudy.org when you can also find test locations as well as online tests.

The Keystone VHF Club is the local club in York County and provides classes and (free) exams.
There is a $35 free payable to the Federal Communications Technician when you pass your test.
The Keystone club also provides radio operators to the City and York County Emergency Operations Centers during an emergency.
Ham operators also provide communications during public events such as the York marathon.

Ham operators also provide communications for Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency through the Pennsylvania Auxiliary Communications Program.

Entry level hand-held radio can be found for around $65 and a basic (more powerful) mobile radios starting around $130

For current classes see below.

April 29th and 30th May 6th - June 3rd June 3rd and 4th

Help Your Community

The City of York Department of Fire/Rescue Services and York County Office of Emergency Management is offering Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) training to residents.

CERT training promotes a partnering effort between emergency services and the people that they serve. The goal is for emergency personnel to train members of neighborhoods, community organizations or workplaces in basic emergency response skills.

For more information click here

Additional Emergency/Disaster Preparedness Resources

For additional information contact:

Nick Meacher, Emergency Preparedness & Response Program Coordinator
York City Bureau of Health
Phone: 717-849-2340

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