Step 2) First Things First

Do These Things as Soon as Possible

If Possible, Do Them Before You Leave the Property

  • If you rent or lease the home, contact the building owner or manager.
  • Get your family settled. If your home is not livable, and you cannot stay with family or friends, you can go to temporary housing arranged by local Emergency Support Services personnel. Following a large disaster, the local government may establish temporary housing in secure Group Lodging facilities where possible. Try to keep the family together – togetherness provides mutual support.
  • If you are insured, contact your agent, broker or insurance company. Do this as soon as possible to get your claim underway. Most policies cover the cost of shelter, food and clothing for the reasonable time needed to repair or rebuild your home.


Take a moment to imagine that there is an emergency, like a fire in your home, and you need to leave quickly. What are the best escape routes from your home? Find at least two ways out of each room. Now, write it down — you've got the beginning of a plan.
  • Remove valuables and essential items. Do NOT enter the home until you know it is safe, or have been giving the green light to enter the area.
  • Secure the property. It’s your responsibility to make sure the house is secured against further damage. If you rent, the landlord or property manager should be responsible for this. If you own the home, here’s what to do: Board up broken windows and smashed doors.
  • Cover holes in roof and walls.
  • In the winter, drain water lines if the house won’t be heated for a while.
  • Take Care of your pets. If a pet is lost, contact the SPCA or local pound. Pets may have been injured in the disaster and can suffer stress, too. Make sure they have plenty of food and water and get lots of exercise.
  • Notify people if you move, even temporarily. Be to give your new address to:
    • Post office
    • Banks
    • Schools
    • Credit card company
    • Utility companies (hydro, gas, telephone)
    • Family and friends