Know Your Risks: Actions to Protect Yourself and Others

Individuals and families face many different types of hazards. It is important to learn the risks you
face and ways to stay up-to-date with current conditions. Taking action now may give you and your
family the power to protect yourselves and your property. 


Determine Your Risks

There are many different types of disasters and hazards. Your risk of becoming affected by each
type depends on the possibility of an event and your vulnerability to it. 

A key first step in disaster preparedness is understanding the types of hazards prevalent in your community. To do this, visit your state and local government’s emergency management websites to look for more information about the common types of disasters and whether disaster plans exist for your area.


You should also sign up for your community’s alert and warning systems which can notify community members of impending disasters or of actions to take following a disaster. Lastly, talk to your friends and neighbors to understand the types of emergencies they are preparing for and what actions they take to prepare.


Basic Protective Actions for all Disasters

There are proven measures or “protective actions” that you can take to protect your family and property before, during, and after a disaster. The better we as a Nation understand these measures, the more lives we can protect and save.

These important actions will help keep you prepared for all disasters:

  • Have the skills to assess the situation quickly and to take effective action to protect
  • Get involved with preparedness training and volunteer programs.
  • Put together an emergency fund of cash and supplies.
  • Decrease the potential impacts of hazards.
  • Prepare a family disaster plan and practice the plan.


Remember to be inclusive in your disaster planning and consider the needs of children, the elderly, and those with disabilities or access and functional needs. Also, be sure to consider the
transportation needs for you and your family, recognizing that a disaster may impact normal route
and transportation methods.

Finally, you should also make sure to plan for your pets and service animals, which are frequently overlooked in disaster planning. For more information on how to prepare your pets for a disaster, read and download this resource from 

Many disasters happen with little or no warning. You need to be ready with the appropriate skills
and knowledge to act immediately—often before you have instructions from authorities. After an
event, it is important to first assess the situation before deciding to stay or change your location and will depend on the type of disaster. This publication from, has an in-depth review of many disasters and how to protect yourself and your family during each disaster: Be Prepared, Take Action?