When a Disaster Strikes, What Will You Do?

3 multipane windows with a search and rescue "OK" sign in the middle

At the Seattle Office of Emergency Management (OEM), one of our main goals is to ensure people in Seattle are ready for emergencies. We help people plan for emergencies and disasters with their friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.

Hello Neighbor checklist

A little goes a long way. Offer to go grocery shopping, run errands, or call to check in.

September is National Preparedness Month, when communities across the country come together to plan for emergencies, practice what they would do during an emergency, and more. If you would like to learn more about emergency preparedness, we offer programs that can help you be more ready for disasters.

Online Training Courses

Socially distant online training is available from Seattle OEM! We offer classes on disaster preparedness basics, neighborhood preparedness, workplace preparedness, and more. We will set up a safe digital space for you, your family, your community group, or any other gathering of people who want to learn more about being ready for disasters.

Generally, our classes run about one hour and can help everyone—from the extreme prepper to the preparedness novice—better understand the hazards we face in Seattle and how we can all respond to them. Learn more and request a training at

Hello Neighbor Checklist

Safely help neighbors during COVID-19. Hello Neighbor cards are available to download in nine languages.

Hello, Neighbor!

Seattle OEM recently conducted a survey of Seattle residents about their preparedness for the COVID-19 pandemic. The results confirmed something we’ve seen in Seattle through tough times: neighbors are coming together to help each other. In fact, most people who responded to the survey said communication with their neighbors has increased during the pandemic!

Many of our neighbors are staying at home to stay safe and could use a helping hand. Use our Hello Neighbor cards to offer to help people staying safer at home! A friendly offer to go grocery shopping, run other errands, or simply call to check in could make a huge difference to a neighbor in need. A little bit goes a long way! The cards are available in multiple languages. Simply fill out the card with ways you’re able to help and share with your neighbors. Click here to download your Hello Neighbor card.

Alert Seattle LogoAlert Seattle

It’s important to be informed about emergencies and disasters in your area. The City of Seattle offers a free emergency alert and information tool called AlertSeattle. You can choose to receive emergency information and updates by email, text message, or phone call. Signing up is easy—simply visit (King County residents outside of Seattle should sign up for Alert King County.) Encourage your family, friends, and neighbors who live or spend time in Seattle to sign up as well!

We know that during a local emergency or a major disaster, our neighbors are often the first people to help us. The plans we make, steps we take, and relationships we build with our friends, family, and neighbors now will make us more ready when an earthquake or winter storm strikes Seattle.

Contributor Kate Hutton coordinates communications at Seattle Office of Emergency Management. To learn more about online training, Hello Neighbor, and other tools Seattle OEM offers, including an interactive hazard explorer, visit

This article originally appeared in the September 2020 issue of AgeWise King County.

Age Friendly Seattle Close to Home program featuring emergency preparedness

Hear Carrie Brazil, Seattle Office of Emergency Management volunteer coordinator, and Ann Forest, North Seattle College emergency preparedness educator, discuss community preparedness on Close to Home: Stories of Health, Tech & Resilience, Age Friendly Seattle’s near-weekly live video conference featuring community voices and useful information. For information about upcoming Age Friendly Seattle virtual events, visit For previous episodes, visit