Basic Tips


  • If an immediate evacuation order is issued, LEAVE! The safety of you and your family must always come first. Everything else is just “stuff” and can be replaced.
  • In the event of an actual emergency, stay informed about up-to-the-minute status by checking the Boulder OEM website (link is located in the sidebar on the right of every page in this website).

This page provides information on being prepared:

  • Overview—basic information about being prepared.
  • Specific Actions—actions you can (and should!) do RIGHT NOW to be prepared.


Living in the mountains, we know that disruptions in services (electricity, phones, Internet) are common, and that disasters (wildfires and floods) can and will happen. In the chaos of an emergency, especially an evacuation, you may not be able to think clearly. Or if the weather forecasts are wrong (not uncommon in the mountains!) and “3-5 inches” of snow becomes 12-24 inches and you’re stranded, that’s too late to do some shopping for extra food, water, or batteries. This is why being prepared in advance can be critical—possibly even to your survival.

Consider these scenarios:

  • If your house smoke alarms go off during the middle of the night, do all house residents know what to do?
  • If Mother Nature dumps three feet of snow and you’re stranded in your house possibly without electricity or phones, do you have enough food and water to last three days?
  • If you have to evacuate, do you know what’s important for you to take with you? If you have only minutes to evacuate, do you know what to do?

There are 3 basic parts to being optimally prepared if any of these of other emergencies occur:

  1. Be informed.
  2. Make a plan.
  3. Build an emergency kit.

Specific Actions

Specifically, there are five actions you can take RIGHT NOW to increase your preparedness:

  1. Have a plan: For example, in the possible case of a house fire, plan evacuation routes now, and have all residents practice what to do. In the possible case of your becoming separated during an evacuation, have a pre-planned place to meet up—don’t count on cell phones because you just never know if you’ll have access to a cell.
  2. Stay informed. Identify sources and modes of emergency information so you can stay informed during an emergency. For example, make sure Boulder OEM has your up-to-date 911 reverse call contact information (register here). And bookmark web pages like the Boulder OEM Emergency Status page.
  3. Collect a stash of extra supplies: In a large plastic tub with a cover, collect a variety of foods (preferably foodstuffs that are nutritional but don’t need refrigeration or cooking), potable water, firewood, batteries, etc. Rotate these periodically to keep your stock fresh.
  4. Create a “To Go” box for every household member.  Yes, even for pets! Each box should contain some clothing, necessary toiletries, medications, etc. For pets, include water and food bowls, some food and treats and, to help lessen stress, some favorite toys. We suggest you use large plastic containers with covers.
  5. Prepare an evacuation checklist—in fact, have three. In an emergency, it may be difficult to think clearly. If you have prepared checklists, all you have to do is follow the list and check off items as complete. The three suggested lists are:

1) immediate (little to no time)
2) small amount of time
3) an extended amount of time

For more detailed information, including checklists, see Resources.