Preparing for Emergencies

U.S. officials said Americans should go about business as usual, including holiday plans, but also to be prepared for emergencies. Here are some tips, compiled from the Homeland Security Department (search) and other officials, for preparing for emergencies:

-- Be aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the news.

-- Report suspicious packages, unattended luggage or briefcases or other unusual items to law enforcement authorities.

-- Establish an emergency contact for your family and make sure everyone knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call. An out-of-state call may be easier to place than a local one if the telephone lines are tied up or disabled.

-- Stock enough bottled water and canned food to last at least three days. Keep a first-aid kit handy along with any medications or other supplies (diapers, formula, contact lens solution, etc.) family members may need.

-- Stay tuned for local emergency alerts and instructions on the radio or TV. Call your local American Red Cross (search) office to find out other what emergency information systems may exist in your community.

-- Inquire about emergency plans at your children's schools, at your work place or other places where your family spends time. Talk to neighbors about creating a plan for your community.

-- More information on emergency preparedness is available at the Homeland Security Department's Web site at