In today's world, it's more important than ever to be prepared for emergencies. They can occur quickly and without warning, so planning is a crucial first step toward a calm and effective response. The American Red Cross has worked with the U.S. Department of Transportation/Federal Transit Administration and the American Public Transit Association to develop information to help you prepare for emergencies while commuting.

Contact Information
Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by an emergency:

  • Make sure people close to you know how to reach you and you know how to reach them.
  • Designate an out-of-town friend or relative to be the contact point for your family. In an emergency, it may be easier to call long distance as local phone lines may become overloaded.
  • Write down your contact information and encourage each member of your family to do the same. Keep it current and keep it with you. Information may include:
    • Your transit system telephone number and Web site address: ___________
    • Local transit police (non-emergency): ___________
    • Local transit police emergency number: ___________
    • Your local American Red Cross chapter telephone number and Web side address: _______
    • Your emergency phone number: ______________
    • Family emergency phone numbers: ________ _____________ ________
    • An out-of-town contact: Name________ Phone number ___________
    • Your family emergency meeting place: _________

Meeting Place

  • Identify a location outside your neighborhood where your family can meet if your home is effected or the area is evacuated

Alternate Modes of Travel

  • Take time now to learn alternate routes and ways to get where you need to go. There are often multiple ways to reach a destination.
  • Keep a local map with you in case you need to walk or take another form of transportation.


  • For more information on how to prepare your family, home and business for emergencies, contact < a href="" target="_blank">your local American Red Cross chapter, your local transit authority and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security at

Prepare and Practice

  • Ask your employer if there is an emergency plan for your workplace and incorporate it into your personal plan.
  • Occasionally review, update and practice your preparedness plans.
  • While commuting, carry with you a small flashlight, dust mask and a pair of protective gloves.

On a Train
If the train stops, follow the operator's instructions quickly and calmly.
In an extreme emergency when you must evacuate the train without the operator's assistance, follow posted emergency procedures.

On a Station Platform
Familiarize yourself with all the exits at the stations that you use in case you ever have to take a different exit.
Listen for announcements and follow instructions quickly and calmly.

On a Bus
Follow the bus operator's instructions. Emergency exit procedures are listed on windows, ceiling escape hatches and on doors.

WMATA Metro Safety Video
This tool, created by the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA), can help people prepare for emergency evacuation on Metro and bus lines. These general precautions and safety tips may also be used when evacuating any kind of mass transit:

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