Your home and family

Why should you prepare for emergencies?

Emergencies happen. There will be times when you may be affected by an emergency but your life is not in immediate danger. During this time you need to know how to help yourself and those around you. This advice is designed to help you and your family prepare for, respond to and recover from the impacts of events that disrupt your daily lives.

What should you do in an emergency?

Call 999 if there is a threat to life

  • Follow the advice of local emergency responders
  • Think before you act
  • Never put yourself or others in unnecessary danger
  • Try to get to a safe place if possible – this may not be your home
  • Check for injuries – remember to help yourself before attempting to help others
  • Try to reassure others around you

If you are not involved in the incident, but are close by or believe you may be in danger:

  • Go in – go inside and stay away from doors and windows
  • Stay in – stay inside for as long as it is safe to do so
  • Tune in – tune in to your local radio, TV and internet news channels. Local emergency responders will use these to give you information about the situation. A wind-up radio will mean you don not have to replace batteries in the event of a power cut.

What sort of emergencies can you prepare for?

It is important to understand our vulnerability to specific types of incident so we know what to expect when an emergency occurs.

Emergencies we know are going to happen

We often get prior warning that some emergencies are going to happen and can take action to prepare ourselves for them. For example, preparing for severe weather by monitoring weather forecasts, flood warnings, listening out for information about outbreaks of disease before they spread more widely or keeping up to date with information about industrial disputes.

Natural hazards such as floods and other severe weather regularly affect the UK. It is important to be aware that as well as causing damage to buildings and transport networks, they can also lead to widespread loss of gas, electricity, water and telecommunications sometimes in areas far from where the incident has taken place.

Strikes and other industrial action can cause interruptions to utility supplies and food or fuel deliveries.

Widespread outbreaks of diseases in humans or animals can also lead to significant disruptions to daily life.

Emergencies we don’t know are going to happen

Some incidents are impossible to predict and happen without warning. It is therefore vital to make sure you are as prepared as you can be for the impacts of these emergencies.

Incidents such as industrial accidents can have a wide range of impacts from interruptions in the supply of fuel and energy, the unintentional releases of dangerous materials into the atmosphere or even major explosions and fires.

Anywhere in the UK can be affected by industrial accidents, but those people who live closest to major industrial sites should receive specific information from those sites about what to do in an emergency.

The UK will continue to be the target for malicious threats of all kinds, ranging from terrorism, organised crime and cyber attacks through to Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear or Explosive incidents (CBRNE). These incidents may be focused on a small area but could lead to impacts across a large area such as disruption to the supply of energy, fuel, telecommunications and transport networks.

What can you do to 'prevent' an emergency?

As well as preparing to reduce the impacts of emergencies when they happen, in some circumstances, there are actions you can take to reduce the likelihood of some emergencies occurring at all.

What can you do to help prevent accidental fires in your home?

Fire safety checks are available free from Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Visit www.wiltsfire.gov.uk for more information.

Alternatively, www.gov.uk provides additional useful information.

What can you do to help prevent flooding in your local area?

If you see that drains or drainage channels are blocked, speak to your local council or the Environment Agency, who will advise you on what you can do. Further information can be found at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

What can you do to prevent cyber attacks?

Get Safe Online is the UK’s national internet security awareness campaign. The Get Safe Online website has lots of advice on how you can keep you and your family safe online. The Get Safe Online website is www.getsafeonline.org.

What can you do to help prevent a terrorist attack?

Keep alert and be vigilant – look out for suspicious behaviour, vehicles or packages. Terrorists could attack at any time. They like public places, especially where people gather or travel.

Call 999 if you think there is an immediate danger or call the Police Anti-Terrorism Hotline on 0800 789 321 to report suspicious behaviour.

Remember if you suspect it, report it.

What can you do to 'prepare' for an emergency?

What can you do to prepare for an emergency?

In the longer term, those affected may have difficulty accessing important documents such as insurance and banking details, and may need support from statutory services, for example, if they are made homeless. However, there are some very simple steps you can take to make yourself and your family better prepared to deal with emergencies.

Preparing for any emergency:

  • Firstly, read our LRF 'Are You Ready?' booklet.
  • Find out how to tune in to your local radio, TV and internet news services.
  • Plan how your family will stay in contact in an emergency – remember your phone might not be working.
  • Be prepared to turn off electrical appliances – if there is a power cut and several appliances restart at once when power is restored, they may overload the system.
  • Gather essential items which you might need in an emergency.
  • Speak to your neighbours and friends and see if you can help them prepare for emergencies

Preparing for having to leave your home:

  • Prepare a grab bag of essential items you might need in an emergency.
  • Be prepared to safely turn off electricity, gas and water supplies, unplug appliances and lock all doors and windows.
  • If you have a car, keep it well maintained and keep bottled water and blankets in the boot.
  • If possible, identify a family member or friend from outside the area who you can stay with temporarily.
  • Make arrangements for your pets to go with you or be left in a safe place.
  • Think about what you will need to do when you return home, such as opening windows to provide fresh air before reconnecting gas, electricity and water supplies.

Preparing for having to stay in your home:

  • Know where you can find torches and blankets, should there be a loss of electricity supply.
  • Keep a wind-up radio in your home so you can stay tuned in to information about the emergency.
  • Maintain a stock of ready-to-eat (e.g. tinned) food and drinking water for your family in case you cannot leave your home for several days.
  • Consider buying a landline handset that draws its power from the phone line (i.e. one that only needs to be plugged into the phone socket) – these will often work when there is no mains power.

What if you are at work when an emergency happens?

Employers have a responsibility for the safety and security of their staff.

All businesses should have arrangements in place to deal with the impacts of emergencies. Make sure you understand what you need to do in an emergency at work.

Think about your journey to and from work. How will you get home if your normal route is disrupted? What alternative arrangements will you need to make for childcare and other commitments?

If you own or run a business and would like advice on emergency planning, go to

What about your children at school?

If your children are at school when an emergency happens, it may be safest for them to remain there and for you not to try and collect them.

All schools should have plans to cope with local emergencies such as fire and flood, and teachers and support staff do all they can to look after the pupils in their care.

You may wish to ask your child’s school for details of their plans to deal with an emergency. You will then be able to incorporate these into your own family preparations.

Be prepared to tune in to your local radio station for advice and for arrangements the school has made to let parents know when to collect their children.

What about your care arrangements?

You may live with members of your family who need regular professional care (such as those who receive visits from a home help). You should speak to the organisations that provide this care and find out what their emergency preparations are if they cannot reach you in an emergency.

What can you do if there is an accidental fire in your home?

  • Don’t tackle fires yourself. Leave it to the professionals.
  • Don’t waste time investigating what has happened or rescuing valuables.
  • If there’s smoke, keep low where the air is cleaner.
  • Before you open a door check if it’s warm. If it is, don’t open it – fire is on the other side.
  • Call 999 as soon as you’re clear of the building. 
  • Get out, stay out, call 999. 999 calls are free.

How can you prepare for the effects of chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive incidents?

It is difficult to prepare yourself and your family for being directly caught up in incidents which are rare occurrences and difficult to predict. It is important that you and your family are aware of what to expect, and how to receive help as safely as possible. In all incidents like this, it is vital that you follow the instructions of local emergency responders. The following may help you prepare:

Explosions:

If an explosion occurs near where you are but you are safe, stay inside (away from windows, lifts and external doors) in case there are further explosions.

Tune in to the radio, TV and internet news channels and listen to the advice of the emergency services.

If you are trapped in debris:

  • Stay close to a wall if possible, and tap on pipes so that rescuers can hear you.
  • Do not use matches or lighters in case of gas leaks.

Chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear incidents:

If an explosion is suspected of containing chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear materials, it may be necessary to decontaminate everyone who was in proximity to the explosion. This could involve showering with soap and water and then dressing in temporary clothing that would be provided.

At all times, it is important to listen to the instructions of local emergency responders. They will direct you to a safe place and guide you through the decontamination process safely and quickly. If you go home untreated, you could contaminate others and make an incident worse.

How can you help out in an emergency?

Knowing some basic first aid skills could help you deal with an emergency – your relatives or friends could be the ones to benefit from your skills.

Here are a few points to remember whenever someone is in need of first aid:

  • Keep calm and look for any dangers to yourself or the injured person
  • Find out what happened.
  • How many casualties are there?
  • Is there anyone around who can help?
  • Call 999 as soon as you can.

When there is more than one injured person, go to the quietest one first. They may be unconscious and need immediate attention.

Learning first aid is easy. For information on first aid and courses please visit:

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