Prepare your home for emergencies

In the event of an emergency, call 999, especially if there is a threat to life. Do not put yourself or others in danger. Always follow the advice of the emergency services, and try to remain calm - think before acting and try to reassure others.


How to prepare for an emergency

Our household plan can help keep you and your family safe during an emergency. Be sure to consult everyone in your household about the plan as you complete it. It's also worth printing out our 'How to be prepared' guide, so you have all the key contacts to hand should a power failure occur.

  • Find out how to turn off home gas, electricity and water supplies.
  • Plan how to escape quickly in the event of a fire or gas leak.
  • Ensure exits and exit routes are kept clear – these are your fire escapes.
  • Fit smoke alarms on each floor of your house, test the batteries regularly and change them every year.
  • Agree with your family where to meet if you cannot get to your home and how you will stay in contact.
  • Teach your children how and when to call emergency services.
  • Pack a bag of essential items – medication, insurance documents, and identity documents.
  • Have a first aid kit in your home and car and learn first aid – download a first aid app for your Smart Phone, such as the free app from the Red Cross
  • Ensure you have sufficient house and contents insurance and find out if it covers temporary accommodation.
  • Keep up to date with the news e.g. radio, TV, social media, internet, etc.

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What to do during an emergency

Don't put yourself or others in danger. If you or someone else is in imminent danger of harm or to life call 999 and choose from Fire, Ambulance or Police.

Go In, Stay In, Tune in

  • Go in and bring your family and pets. Close doors and windows.
  • Stay at home or somewhere safe, it is usually safest to stay in. Remember in the event of a fire: Get out, Stay out and call 999.
  • Tune in to your local radio and/or TV and monitor social media. Local radio stations:

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Preparing for evacuation

Emergency services may advise you to evacuate your home or place of work for your own safety using door to door knocking or a loud hailer system. If this happens, leave as quickly and calmly as possible for your own safety. If you are unable to evacuate, please let the authorities know. If you have less able neighbours please consider assisting them if it is safe to do so.

You may be given an evacuation card which will also give you specific advice about where you should go as a safe place and for more information. This designated place is called a Rest Centre. Pets can be taken to rest centres – you will be advised what to do with them on arrival.

What to do in an evacuation

Only if you have time and it is safe to do so:

  • Turn off/isolate electricity, gas and water supplies, unplug appliances and lock all doors and windows
  • Take your grab bag (medication if you required, mobile phone and charger, ID or passport, and cash or your debit/credit card).
  • If you leave by car, make sure you check road closures online or the radio.
  • Take your pets (with suitable carriers or leads)
  • Tune in to local radio for emergency advice and instructions (social media).
  • If the evacuation is overnight and you choose not to stay at the Rest Centre, please inform the emergency services of where you have gone and how you can be contacted by calling 101, or by telling Rest Centre staff so they do not think you missing. A carer can do this for you if required but it is important everyone is accounted for to avoid unnecessary searches.

Rest centres

Your local District or Borough Council, supported by Surrey County Council and other partners will open a "rest centre" to provide basic accommodation and will be able to respond to any special needs you may have. The location of the rest centre is decided at the time of the incident and transport will be provided for you to get there if you have no transport of your own.

On arrival you will provide your details, such as your name and any special needs. This information may also be used to help identify you as safe to those friends and family that may be concerned about you during an incident. Mobile phone networks may become overloaded, so they may call the authorities to check on you.

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What if I'm elderly, disabled, sick or have special needs?

Special arrangements will be made for you by a Local Authority Officer. If you are concerned, please contact Adult Social Care or the Emergency Duty Team outside of office hours (5pm–9am).

  • If you need extra help, sign up to gas, electricity and water services' priority registers which will mean in a utility loss you are prioritised and supported accordingly.
  • If you know anyone in your neighbourhood who may not be known to emergency, health and social care services but may need help in an emergency then please check on them to see if they need any help and support them if you can.

Returning home after an emergency

  • Listen to advice from emergency services or local authorities about any specific actions which you must follow when it is safe to return home – such as about drinking water, or power loss.
  • Contact your insurance company if needed.
  • Contact the relevant utility companies.
  • If you turned off gas it must be turned on again by a professional for safety reasons.

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Files available to download

  • Household Emergency Plan Template (MS Word)
    A template document helping individuals draw up an emergency plan for their household including an emergency preparedness checklist, contact lists, practical guides and a grab bag checklist (Word version)
  • How to be prepared for local emergencies guide (PDF)
    A short guide to help you prepare for emergencies, featuring a list of emergency contact numbers. Topics covered include flooding; severe weather; wildfires; power, gas and water loss; and evacuation