HSU: What to Do When Disaster Strikes

What To Do When Disaster Strikes

San Francisco is exposed to a wide variety of hazards, such as earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, power outages, severe storms, and acts of terrorism. In order to respond effectively to these and other events, the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Emergency Services has developed a comprehensive and integrated emergency plan that is updated continuously. However, it is not enough that our City has a plan. We as individuals must also prepare ourselves, our homes, our workplaces, and our neighborhoods.

Imagine that you have no electricity, no gas, no water, and no telephone service. Imagine that all of the streets and shops are closed and you are without any kind of help or emergency services. What will you do until help arrives?

The information, ideas, and resources provided here are to help you prepare for and respond to disaster.

  Know About Emergency Broadcasts

At 12 o'clock every Tuesday afternoon, the City tests the outdoor warning system for San Francisco. If you hear these warning sirens continuously at any other time, tune to AM radio stations KGO 810, KCBS 740 or KNBR 680 for emergency information broadcasts.

  Getting Ready

Planning is your best protection in any emergency. Help may not reach you right away. Water and power may not be restored for days. Plan to be on your own for one week.


Keep copies of important papers outside your home.

Include your passport, driver's license social security card, health insurance cards, prescription, list of your valuable, wills, deeds, and financial records.

Choose a person to be your contact.

Choose someone outside the Bay Area. Give this person the names and telephone numbers of people to keep informed. After a disaster, ask your contact person to call those people.

Develop emergency plans for home, school, and work.

Pick exit routes and meetings points. Know how and when to turn off gas, electricity, and water in your home. Practice your plan!

Make emergency kits for home, work, and car.

Include water (seven gallons per person), food, medicines, first aid kit, flashlight, AM radio, extra batteries, dust mask, eye protection, whistle, soap, and sanitary items, and cash in small bills.

Put smoke detectors in home.

Change the batteries twice a year.

  Prepare For Disaster

The Five-Step Plan

Following are some simple steps you can take to prepare yourself for any event, large or small. Be prepared to be on your own for at least one week.

  1. Duplicate your important documents and keep an extra copy off site either in a safety deposit box or with someone you trust. Examples of these documents are: passport, driver's license, social security card, will, deeds, financial statements, prescriptions, personal items, etc. Include an inventory of your valuable, in writing and with photograph or video. This will help you with your insurance company later.

  2. Designate an out-of-state contact person. Provide this person with the names and contact information of people you would like to keep informed of your situation. This way, after a disaster, you only need to make one call and your contact can do the rest.

  3. Develop your emergency plan. Involve all family and household members in planning; don't forget babysitters and other household help.
    • Discuss all possible exits routes from each room, the building, and the neighborhood.
    • Decide where you will reunite after a disaster.
    • Put emergency number besides each telephone.
    • Clear hallways and exits for easy evacuation.
    • Locate the main water, electricity, and gas shut off valves. Know how and when to switch them off. Only PG&E can turn your gas back on so don't turn it off unnecessarily.
    • Account for everybody's needs especially seniors, people with disabilities, children, and non-English speakers.
    • Keep your vehicle in good working order and be sure the gas tank is always at least half full.
    • Practice. Conduct emergency drills. Walk through your plan with all household members, check your smoke detectors, and be sure to practice "DROP, COVER and HOLD" and other exercises at least every six months.
    • Schedule time on the days that the clocks change to check and rotate your supplies as well as to review and practice your emergency drills.

  4. Put together your emergency kits. Yours main kit should include water, food, a manual can opener, first aid and personal medications, an AM radio, a flashlight, batteries, sanitary items, shoes, clothing, tools and supplies, and any other items that you might require. Remember to include cash in small denominations as ATM machines may not be working and banks could be closed. Be prepared to be on your own for at least one week. Also prepare a "go bag" for your home, workplace, and vehicle to use in the event of evacuation.

  5. Know your community resources and become one yourself.
    • Join the SF Fire Department, Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) (415) 558-3456 or www.sfnert.org
    • Take classes with American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter (415) 427-8000 or www.bayarea-redcross.org.
    • Contact the Volunteer Center of San Francisco to find out how to help in times of disaster (415) 982-8999 or www.vcsf.org.
    • Become a volunteer Ham radio operator with the Auxiliary Communication Services (ACS) (415) 703-6586 or wwwsfacs.org.
    • Set up your own 'Neighborhood Watch' group with SAFE (415) 553-1984 or www.sfsafe.org

  Make Your Home Safe

Here are some additional safety tips for protecting your home and the people in it.

  • Be sure that your address is easily visible from the road so emergency vehicles can find you.
  • Install smoke detectors and change batteries every six months.
  • Keep ABC type fire extinguishers and know how and when to use them.
  • Strap down your water heater and fit it with flexible gas supply line. Contact PG&E for further details: (800) 743- 5000 or www.pge.com
  • Have a standard telephone. Telephone that require electricity will not operate in a power failure and cell phones may not function in a disaster.
  • Know how and when to switch off your utilities .
  • Store dangerous chemicals safety.
  • Move beds away from windows and heavy objects that could fall.
  • Store heavy items on the lowest shelves.
  • Secure pictures and wall hangings, tabletops items, and top-heavy items such as refrigerators, bookcases, and file cabinets.

  Basic Emergency Supplies

Making an emergency kit is one of the most important steps you can take to protect yourself. Be sure to rotate your supplies every six months. One way to remind yourself to do this is set aside a couple of hours when the clocks change.


This kit is for use in the event of an evacuation. Be sure that your bag is easy to carry and that it has an ID tag. Keep one at home, at work, in your vehicle. Include the following:

  • Some water, food, and a manual can opener.
  • Flashlight, AM radio, and extra batteries.
  • Whistle.
  • Personal medication and prescriptions to last at least one week.
  • Basic first aid kit and manual.
  • Walking shoes, warm clothes, and lightweight rain gear.
  • Extra hearing aid, glasses, and any other essential personal items
  • Toilet paper, plastic bags, and other personal hygiene supplies
  • Dust mask.
  • Writing kit. including paper, pens, and tape.

If you are preparing "go bags" for your children include a family photograph and a favorite toy.


  • You should be prepared to be on your own for at least one week. Be sure to include:
  • One gallon of drinking water per person, per day.
  • Ready to eat canned foods (i.e., beans, meats, fruits).
  • Manual can opener.
  • First Aid Kit and Manual.
  • Medications and prescriptions.
  • Flashlight, AM radio, and extra batteries.
  • Whistle
  • Credit cards and cash (especially in small denominations).
  • A copy of your important documents in a waterproof and portable container.
  • Household bleach, unscented.
  • Personal hygiene items including toilet paper, feminine supplies, plastic bags, and soap.
  • Sturdy shoes, heavy gloves, warm clothes, and lightweight rain gear.
  • Extra pair of eyeglasses, hearing aid, walking stick, batteries, and any other vital personal items.
  • Other supplies: plastic sheeting, duct tape, and utility knife.

  In A Disaster

Whatever you do, stay calm. STOP what you are doing. LOOK around you and carefully assess the situation. LISTEN for instructions.

For your own protection, cooperate fully with public safety officials.

Inspect your building for damage. Using a flashlight, check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source.

If you smell gas, evacuate immediately. Report gas leaks to your utility company. Check the area for downed power lines. If you notice one, warn others to stay away and contact the Department of Public Works at (415) 695-2020.

Keep the streets for emergency vehicles.

  Building Collapse

Stay away from broken windows, heavy lights, and furniture that may move.

Exit only if you are in danger.

If you smell gas, leave right away.

Stay out of elevators.

Think before you try to move someone. You may cause another collapse or further injure the victim.

Follow instructions from safety workers.


In the Event of an Earthquake:

  1. DROP to the floor.
  2. Take COVER under a sturdy piece of furniture or next to an interior wall. Cover your head and neck with arms.
  3. HOLD on to a sturdy piece of furniture and be prepared to move with it. Stay where you are until the shaking stops.
  4. Wheelchair users: Apply brake, Cover your head with arms.
  5. Drivers: Pull over. Do not block the street. Stay in your car.

During An Earthquake

  • If indoors, stay here. Get under a desk or table or stand in a corner.
  • If outdoors, get into an open area away from trees, buildings, walls and power lines.
  • If in a high-rise building, stay away from windows and outside walls. Get under a table. Do not use elevators.
  • If driving, pull overpasses and power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking is over.
  • If in a crowed public place, do not rush for the doors. Crouch and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.

After An Earthquake

Unless there is an immediate, life-threatening emergency, do not attempt to use the telephone. After a quake, be sure to:

  • Check for gas and water leaks, broken electrical wiring or sewage lines. If there is damage, turn the utility off at the source and immediately report gas leaks to your utility company.
    Check for downed power line; warn others to stay away.
  • Check your buildings for cracks and damage, including the roof, chimneys and foundations.
  • Turn on your portable radio for instructions and news reports. For your own safety, cooperate fully with public safety officials and follow instructions.
  • Do not use your vehicle unless there is an emergency. Keep the streets clear for emergency vehicles.

Be Prepared for Aftershocks

  • Stay calm and lend a hand to others.

  • If you evacuate, leave a message at your home telling family members and other where you can be found.

  • At home or work: Take cover and avoid heavy furniture, appliances, windows, and shelves with heavy objects that might fall over. If you are in bed, cover yourself and stay there until the shaking stops. Parents, resist the urge to run to your children. Wait until the immediate danger is over and then go to them. You will not be able to help them if you are injured yourselves.

  • Outside: If you are on the sidewalk near a building, duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling objects. If possible, move to a clear area away from trees, sign, buildings, electrical wires, and poles.

  • In your car: Carefully pull over to the side of the road and stop. Be sure you are clear of overpasses, bridges, and power lines. Stay inside your car until the shaking stops.

  • In a high-rise: DROP, COVER and HOLD. Stay in your seat, below the level of the back of the seat, and cover your head and neck with your arms.

  • In a shop or other public place: Stay calm. Move away from shelves with objects might fall. Do not rush for door.

Can You Go Alone For Three Days?

The first 72 hours after an earthquake are critical. Electricity, gas, water, and telephones may not be working. In additional, public safety services such as police and fire departments will be busy handling serious crises. You should be prepared to be self-sufficient - able to live without running water, electricity and/or gas, and telephones - for at least three days following a quake. To do so, keep on hand in a central location the following:

  • Food. Enough for 72 hours, preferably one week.
  • Water. Enough so each person has a gallon a day for 72 hours, preferably one week. Store in airtight container and replace it every six months. Store disinfectants such as iodine tablets or chlorine bleach, eight drops per gallon, to purify water if necessary.
  • First aid kit. Make sure it's well stocked, especially with bandages and disinfectants.
  • Fire extinguisher. Your fire extinguisher should be suitable for all types of fires. Teach all family members how to use it.
  • Flashlights with extra batteries. Keep flashlights besides your bed and in several other locations. DO NOT use matches or candles after an earthquake until you are certain there are no gas leaks.
  • Portable radio with extra batteries. Most telephones will be out of order or limited to emergency use. The radio will be your best source of information.
  • Extra blankets, clothing, shoes and money.
  • Alternate cooking sources. Store a barbecue or camping stove for outdoor camping. CAUTION: Ensure there are no gas leaks before you use any kind of fire as a cooking source and do not use charcoal indoors.
  • Tools. Have an adjustable or pipes wrench for turning off gas and water An earthquake can happen at any time. Try to set your home and workplace so that you can quickly and easily take cover.
  • Special items. Have at least a week's supply of medications and food for infants and those with special needs. Don't forget pet food.

Before An Earthquake

How well you, your family and your home survive an earthquake often depends upon how well you prepare beforehand. Develop a family and neighborhood earthquake plan. The following checklist will help you get started:

  • Prepare an emergency kit of food, water, and supplies including a flashlight, portable battery-operated radio, batteries, medicines, first aid kit, money and clothing.
  • Know the safe spots in each room - under sturdy tables, decks or against interior walls.
  • Know the danger spots-near windows, mirrors, hanging objects, fireplaces and tall, unsecured furniture.
  • Conduct practice drills so you and family know the safe locations in your home.
  • Decide how and where your family will reunite if separated during a quake.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend or relative who family members can call after the quake to report their whereabouts and conditions.
  • Learn first aid and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation.)
  • Learn how to shut off gas, Water, and electricity in case the lines are damaged. SAFETY NOTE: Don not attempt to relight the gas pilot. Call the utility company.
  • Check chimneys, roofs, walls, and foundations for stability. Make sure your house is bolted to foundation.
  • Secure your water heater and major appliances as well as tall, heavy furniture, hanging plants, mirrors and picture frames-especially those over beds.
  • Keep breakables, heavy objects, flammables or hazardous liquids such as, paints, pest sprays and cleaning products, in secured cabinets or on lower shelves
  • Organize your neighborhood to be self-sufficient after a quake.



If you smell gas or smoke, see fire, are told to evacuate, or genuinely fear for your safety where you are, leave immediately. If possible:

Wear sturdy shoes and appropriate clothing.

Take your emergency "go bag"

Use travel routes specified or special assistance provided by local officials

Once you are safe, call your out-of-state contact and tell them where you are.

  Evacuating a High-Rise Building

There are a few simple rules you should remember to safety evacuate a high-rise office building, hotel, or mall.

Stay calm

  • Do not use elevators to make an emergency evacuation from a high-rise building.
  • Learn where the stairways are located when you first check into hotel.
  • Do not attempt to evacuate with large objects, such as luggage, which may have to be abandoned in a stairway.
  • Count the floor levels when you are descending in a stairwell.
  • Stay to the right when descending a stairway so that emergency personnel may pass you as they ascend with their equipment and other gear.
  • Never move up to the roof of a high-rise building to seek rescue.
  • If there is smoke in the room or hallway, stay low to the floor and seek the nearest stairway exit.
  • Upon exiting a high-rise building, move as far away as possible from the base of the building.

Preparation tips

  • Always keeps a small flashlights handy in your office, cubicle, or hotel room.
  • Keep a small supply of bottled water at the ready.
  • A common traffic whistle can be carried to sound audible alerts if you become trapped .
  • If you carry a pager, set it to audible mode. Leave your pager number with co-workers and others so that rescuers may dial it help locate you in a trapped situation.
  • Keep a supply of paper particle masks handy. They will not prevent inhalation of smoke, but will help to prevent choking on dust and other debris.
  • Practice evacuation plans with your co-workers and drill at least twice per year.
  • When possible, evacuate in groups to assist one another and keep an accounting of personnel.


  • Get out of the building if you can.
  • Set off the fire alarms.
  • Close doors and windows to slow down the fire.
  • Go to a windows and call for help.
  • If you are trapped inside, stay near the floor.
  • To use a fire extinguisher, think PASS:
    • Pull the pin.
    • Aim the nozzle at the base of the fire.
    • Squeeze the handle.
    • Sweep foam from side to side.

If your clothes catch on fire, STOP where you are, DROP to the ground, and ROLL over and over to smother the flames.

  • Drop to the floor to avoid smoke and fumes - crawl to safety.
  • Feel the door with the back of your hand before you open it. If it is hot, find another way out.

If your smoke detector goes off or you notice a fire:

  • Remain calm and get out. Do not try to fight the fire.
  • Call 9-1-1 from a safe place.

If you are unable to get out of your home for any reason, stay near a windows and close to the floor. If possible, signal for help.

SF Fire Department: (415) 558-3200 or www.sfgov.org/fire

  Power Outrage

Power cuts can be due to rolling black outs, extreme weather conditions, or accompany other disasters such as earthquakes. If there is no power in your neighborhood:

  • Turn off all appliances and computers.
  • Leave one light on, to show when power is back on.
  • Do not use candles. Use flashlights.
  • When power is on again, make sure that appliances work properly.
  • If you are cold, bring everyone into one room and close all doors to keep heat in .
  • Drivers: If traffic signals are not working, treat them as stop signs.
  • Keep the refrigerator closed; this will help to keep food cold longer
  • Be very careful of fire hazards caused by candles and other flammables light sources. Never leave an open flame unattended.
  • When power is restored, walk around your home or workplace to ensure appliances are switched off.

PG&E : (800) 743-5000 or www.pge.com

  Severe Storms And Flooding

Severe storms can cause landslides or flooding. Be aware of hillsides that can slip as well as streams, drainage channels, and other areas that may flood.

  • Stay clear of downed power lines.
  • Do not try to walk across a flowing stream where water is above your knees.
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains, or viaducts.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded road. If your vehicle stalls leave it and go to higher ground.
  • Department of Public Works: (415) 695-2020 or www.sfgov.org/sfdpw



The City and County of San Francisco has identified and prepared a number of potential shelter sites. Depending on the location and size of the emergency, the City will open as many shelters as necessary in the most suitable areas. Listen to AM radio stations KGO 810, KCBS 740, or KNBR 680 for information about shelter locations. Be aware - only service animals are allowed in emergency shelters. Make other arrangements for your pets in advance.

Shelter In Place

In some cases, it is safer for you to be indoors. If you are told to "shelter in place", go inside immediately. Shut all windows and doors, close the fireplace damper, and turn off air conditioning and ventilation systems. Listen to your radio and remain where you are until local authorities tell you it is safe to go outside again.


In a terrorist attack:

  • Stay calm. Follow instructions from safety workers.
  • Be ready for another attack.
  • Do not spread rumors.

Be vigilant.

  • Look out for secondary hazards such as falling debris or additional attacks.
  • Know who to call and follow the instructions of emergency service personnel.

Be alert:

  • When you go to a new building, always looks for ways to leave quickly.
  • If you find a strange package, do not touch it.
  • Leave the area and call 911.

The primary objective of a terrorist is to create fear. With accurate information and basic emergency preparedness, you can fight back.

Know the Facts.

  • Seek the facts of a situation and think critically. Confirm reports using a variety of respected sources of information.
  • Over 90% of all past terrorist attacks have used conventional weapons, explosives, or incendiary devices as they are inexpensive and easy to obtain.

Be Responsible.

  • Do not spread rumors - confirm information with a credible source.

Be aware of your surroundings. Notice where emergency exits are located. Consider the best way to evacuate the area - where you are.

Report suspicious objects, vehicles, or persons to the appropriate authorities.

Cooperate with security procedures at work and in public places.

Take precautions when traveling. Be aware of unusual behavior. Do not accept packages from strangers. Do not leave luggage unattended.

If You Are Trapped in Debris:

  • Move around as little as possible so that you don't kick up dust.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or clothing.
  • Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can hear where you are. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort.

If You Receive a Suspicious Package or Envelope:

  • PUT IT DOWN - preferably on a stable surface.
  • Cover it with something like a trash can or plastic bag.
  • Alerts others to the presence of the package or envelope and evacuate the area.
  • Leave the room and close the door behind you.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water.
  • Call 9-1-1.

If You Receive a Bomb Threat:

  • Ask the caller the following questions:
    1. When is the bomb going to explode?
    2. Where is the bomb right now?
    3. What kind of bomb is it?
    4. What does the bomb look like?
    5. Why did you place the bomb?
    6. Where are you calling from?
  • Record the exact time and length of caller.
  • Write down the exact words of caller.
  • Listen carefully to the caller's voice and background noise.
  • After you hang up, call 9-1-1 immediately.

FBI: (415) 553-7400 or www.fbi.gov


Large earthquakes under the sea floor will sometimes cause a tsunami (soo-nah-me), a series of waves varying in size and frequency. The waves are full of debris and can rise to over 30 feet high. You cannot surf a tsunami. If the ground shakes for more than 20 seconds or the water recedes dramatically, move to higher ground immediately. Stay off the beach and away from large bodies of water until local authorities have told you that it is safe to return.

  Extra Tips For Seniors And People With Disabilities

Seniors and people with disabilities will need to consider whether or not they should take additional precautionary measures to further reduce their exposure to risk during an emergency.

  • Evaluate your capabilities, limitations needs, and surroundings to determine what type of support you may need in an emergency.
  • Develop a "Buddy System". Find people you can rely on in an emergency. Ask your buddies to check on you and provide any assistance you might need . Explain your requirements and teach them what they need to know in order to help you. Be sure to give them a spare copy of your important keys.
  • If you are dependent on electricity for your wheelchair, breathing machine, or any other life sustaining device, plan for a loss of power.
  • Keep 7-14 day supply of medications at all times.
  • Make an information sheet of life support needs, medical conditions medications and dosages, allergies, special equipment, medical insurance, Medicare cards, as well as personal and medical contact details. Keep this documentation with you at all times. Give a copy to each buddy. Keep a copy inside your emergency kit and update it regularly.
  • People who have difficulty with communication should prepare a list of their special needs in writing (e.g. special toileting or how to lift or move them).

Senior Information Line: (415) 626-1033 or www.preparenow.org.

  Extra Tips For Parents

Include your children in preparing for emergency. Teach them how to get help and what to do wherever they are.

Practice often.

  1. Provide your children with contact numbers to use in event of an emergency.
  2. Warn children never to touch any wires lying on the ground or hanging from poles.
  3. Teach children what gas smells like. Tell them that if they smell it, they should leave the building.

Make arrangements to have your children picked up if you are unable to do so. Be sure to tell them who it is safe to go with and that it may take a long time for someone to get there.

  • Regularly update the emergency contact information at your children's schools.
  • Teach your children how to call 9-1-1.
  • Volunteer to help your children's school to prepare for and respond to an emergency.

  Extra Tips For Pet Owners

  • Have enough water, food, and medicine for your pet to last at least one week.
  • Keep your pet's ID tags up to date. Consider having him/her micro-chipped.
  • Always keep vaccinations current. Carry copies of medical certificates and contact telephone numbers together with your emergency kit.
  • Arrange with a neighbor to take care of your pet in case you arrive home late after a disaster.
  • Know where your pet hides so that you can easily find him or her in times of stress.
  • Be sure to have a portable carrier for your pet.
  • Do not try to carry a frightened animal.

Animal Care Control: (415) 554-6364 or www.sfgov.org/acc

  Mental Health

Any kind of disaster can be very stressful, and everybody will react differently. Coping with a disaster can be difficult, but some ways to make it easier are to:

  • Let your feelings out. Express yourself in a positive way by talking to someone you trust, drawing, painting, or writing.
  • Avoid taking your feelings out on others.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings, but don't pressure them if they do not feel ready.
  • Return to normal routines as soon as you feel able.
  • Try to sleep well and eat a healthy, balanced diet. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other drugs.
  • Spend time with close family and friends.
  • Do something nice for somebody else.
  • Help children to feel in control. Let them make decisions about meals, what to wear, etc.

If you continue to have strong feelings for a long time, think about seeing someone professionally.

Mental Health Assistance: (415) 781-0500 or www.dph.sf.ca.us

  Air Contamination

During serious air pollution, chemical or radiation disaster, radio broadcasts may tell you to "shelter in place." Here's what to do:

  • Stay inside your home, building, or car.
  • Close windows and doors. Pull blinds, curtains, and drapes.
  • Turn off air conditioning and ventilators that pull air into the building.
  • Blocks cracks around windows and doors with towels.
  • Wait until emergency radio gives the OK to leave.

  Food Tips

  • Store at least one week's supply of non-perishable food for each person.
  • Don't forget to pack a manual can opener.
  • Select food that is appropriate to your dietary needs.
  • Stay away from foods that require a lot of water, or needs to be refrigerated or cooked.
  • Do not include salty foods that will make you thirsty, or food with caffeine that will dehydrate you.
  • Include items from all foods groups.
  • Store foods in airtight and pest resistant containers in a cool, dark place.
  • Eat perishable foods first.


  • If you suspect poisoning, call 911 immediately.
  • If you know what poison was taken, tell the operator .
  • Keep the victim safe and warm until help arrives.

  Water Tips

  • In a disaster, water supplies may be cut off or contaminated. Be sure to have 1 gallon of drinking water per person (per day) to last at least one week.
  • Rotate water supplies every 6 months.
  • Seal water containers tightly, label them and store in a cool, dark place. Do not place plastic bottles directly on concrete.
  • Sources of water in your home include: ice cubes, toilet tank, pipes, and your hot water tank.
  • The easiest ways to treat water are to bring it to a rolling boil for 5-10 minutes or to disinfect it with regular (unscented) bleach. Use 8 drops per gallon if the water is clear and 16 drops if it's cloudy. Stir and leave standing for 30 minutes before use.


  If Someone Is Injured

  • Do not move the victim unless there is immediate danger.
  • Call 911. If the victim is bleeding or unconscious, tell the operator.
  • Remain calm. Stay with the victim.

    If the victim is bleeding:

  • Apply direct pressure to the wound.
  • Raise the injured area.
  • Do not let the victim's blood touch your skin.

  Know How To Call 911

Call 911 for emergency help only. From cell phones, call (415) 553-8090.

  • Clearly describe the situation.
  • Give the address and the telephone number you're calling from.
  • Do not hang up until the 911 operator tells you to.
  • During a disaster, 911 will be flooded with calls.
  • Expect to wait.

Cell phones: (415) 553-8090
Cell phones user, call 553-8090. Program this number into your phone.

  When To Call 9-1-1

Call 9-1-1 to request emergency medical, police, or fire help.

During major disasters, 9-1-1 may be flooded with calls. Be prepared to wait.

For non-emergency situations call: Police: (415) 553-0123
Fire/Medical: (415) 695-6600


  For Businesses

More than 60% of all businesses directly affected by a major disaster never reopen. Proper planning and regular training reduce your exposure to risk and increase the likelihood that your business will survive. Businesses emergency preparation is a group process and, like any initiative, requires the support of senior management. Here are some basic steps to help you to protect your businesses in a disaster.


    A. Do Your Research

    Meet with groups such as government agencies, community organization, and utilities companies. Ask about potential emergencies and their plans and resources for responding to them.

    Identify the codes and regulations that apply to your businesses.

    Analyze resources and capabilities. Determine what you have and what you need. Look to your staff as a source of first aid, communication, and other vital skills.

    B. Make Provisions for Your Employees

    Encourage employees to prepare their families. The more prepared they are at home, the more likely they will be able to help at work.

    Keep personnel roster current. Be able to account for all employees, clients, and visitors at all times.

    Plan for a way to communicate with employees about the status of your business. Follow an evacuation or emergency event. Designate a special telephone number for employee to call for updates about the status of your business operations.

    Prepare for employees assistance, damage assessment, clean up and restoration.

    C. Plan for Recovery

    Develop your evacuation plan, designate primary and secondary emergency assembly areas.

    Be sure you are to communicate with all occupants of your building(s) for information and emergency announcements.

    Identify and eliminate non-structural hazards in your business.

    Be sure aisles and exit routes are clear and heavy furniture and equipment are secure.

    Determine how you will shut down equipment and secure any unlocked areas.

    D. Speed Up Your Recovery

    Develop several different recovery strategies. In the event that you are unable to remain in your current place of business, be sure that you can recover critical functions somewhere else, whether it's at a location you own or location you rent from another vender.

    Keep copies of your most important business documents and records off site.

    Evaluate your records systems and inventory. Decide what you must have available at an alternate site to continue operations.

    Protect your electronic information and physical inventory.

    Develop a plan to keep clients informed about delivery of goods and service in the event of a disaster. Be sure vendor and client list are current. Develop your recovery plan for building restoration and employee recovery.


    At a minimum this should include water, non-perishable food, manual can openers, flashlights, portable AM radios, spare batteries, first aid kits and manuals, whistles, dusk masks, sanitation supplies, blankets, tools, heavy work gloves.

    Have enough supplies for at least one week. Keep the kits in a safe and accessible place.

    Encourage employees to make their own personal kits for work and home. A personal kit for work should include some water and food, a manual can opener, a flashlight, AM radio and extra batteries, basic medical kit and manual, essential personal medications to last at least one week, sturdy shoes, change of warm clothing, lightweight rain gear, spare cash, extra pair of glasses, plastic bags, dusk mask, personal, and sanitary items.

    Rotate supplies on a regular basis - every six months.


    Be sure all employees know what to do in the event of an emergency. Conduct Emergency drills at least twice a year and integrate emergency event. Evaluate and modify plan as appropriate.


    Seek information about what resources are available to your business in the event of emergency.

    Coordinate your planning with all of your office locations as well as other organizations.

    Think about how your business can become a resource in emergency. Encourage co-workers to train basic first aid, CPR, or as a disaster volunteer, Contact the following organizations for further information:

    • American Red Cross, Bay Area Chapter - (415) 427-8000 or www.bayarea-redcross.org
      Disaster preparedness, First Aid and CPR training

    • Auxiliary Communication Service (ACS) - (415) 703-6586 or www.sfacs.org
      Learn to become a Ham radio operator or join the group

    • Building Occupancy Resumption Program (BORP) - (415) 558-6104 or www.sfgov.org/dbi/home.html - click on "earthquake preparedness"
      Pre-certify private post-earthquake inspections

    • Safety Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) - (415) 553-1984 or www.sfsafe.org
      Community safety information including neighborhood watch

    • SF Fire Department, Neighborhood Emergency Response Team (NERT) - (415) 558-3456 or www.sfnert.org

    • Volunteer Center of San Francisco - (415) 982-8999 or www.vcsf.org
      Coordinates volunteer response after a disaster

    Phone numbers you may need:

    • Poison Control Center: (800) 876-4766

    • Police (non-emergency calls): (415) 553-0123 / TDD (415) 626-4357

    • Power Outage Information: (415) 743-5002

    • San Francisco General Hospital: (415) 206-8000