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Home > City Departments > Emergency Management Services > Community Emergency Preparedness: Frequently Asked Questions

Community Emergency Preparedness: Frequently Asked Questions

Define disaster:
Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. They can be either man-made or natural and can strike without warning. Communities can- - and do- - cope with disaster by planning and preparing in advance and working together as a team. How can I best Prepare my home, family and community for a disaster?
Each family should develop an emergency plan in case of a natural disaster or other emergency. M agencies such as the American Red Cross ( or (phone: 716-878-2353) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency ( have brochures to help you develop a family emergency plan. You can also visit the local Red Cross at 786 Delaware Avenue, Monday -Friday from 9am-4pm. Another good source of information is ( See also the Buffalo ( and Erie County websites ( for the latest updates. Your community group or neighborhood association might also want to consider establishing a phone tree or email list to relay important information.

What about fallout shelters?

How will access to basic necessities (food, water) be provided in the event of a disaster?

How should suspicious mail be handled?

Offices and organizations should open mail in an isolated area. Latex gloves and a hepafilter mask can be worn, and hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and water if a suspicious package is handled. For more information, see the US Postal Service website:

Anthrax symptoms resemble the flu-what should I do if I have flu-like symptoms?

Should I buy a gas mask?

What resources are available to deal with anxiety or depression over a disaster or the fear of disaster?

If I am separated from my family during an emergency, who can be contacted regarding their safety?

Will my children be kept in school or released during an emergency?

Do Buffalo and Erie County have a disaster plan?

Yes, and they are updated annually. You can call the City of Buffalo Office of Emergency Preparedness at 716-851-6510 or the Erie County Office of Emergency Services at 716-858-6578. For more information, see your local government websites: Erie County In the event of an emergency (weather-related or other), a decision will be made by school authorities. Utilize the media for updates.In the event of an emergency watch or listen to the news for hotline numbers that will be established. Set up a plan in advance for contacting family members in the event of an emergency.

Crisis Services has a 24-hour hotline: 716-834-3131Purchasing of gas masks for protection against biologic agents is discouraged. Gas masks would only be protective if worn at the exact moment a bio terrorist attack occurred, and it is impractical to wear masks continuously. Moreover, masks need to be fitted properly. Improper use of gas masks can cause serious injury and death, especially among persons with underlying heart or lung or contact the Erie County Health Department at and Buffalo you are experiencing flu-like symptoms, be sure to see a doctor. How can I get more information on anthrax? For more Information on anthrax, see
If you receive a suspicious package, call 911 for a threat assessment. If your situation is deemed at risk, the appropriate agencies will respond.If a disaster is declared, these issues will be addressed by the Buffalo Emergency Operations Human Needs Task Force and the Erie County Emergency Department. Locations of basic necessities will be announced via the media.Because most fallout shelters were outdated, they were dismantled by federal order in the mid-80s. The current shelter system uses different locations according to the type of emergency that occurs. or the FBI website: