Houston Community Emergency Response Team Program
Welcome to the homepage for Houston’s Community Emergency Response Team Program. Managed by FEMA, the CERT Program trains ordinary citizens in how to help themselves and their neighbors in the event of disasters. In addition, because of the training that CERT Volunteers undergo, they are often called upon to assist in organized disaster response as well. CERT training is provided free-of-charge. The Houston CERT Program is a part of the Mayor’s Office of Public Safety and Homeland Security.
CERT in Houston
The role of the City of Houston CERT Program and the Houston CERT Coordinator is to coordinate CERT training within the City of Houston. This website serves as a central source of information about upcoming activities that require CERT-trained volunteers. In addition to coordinating CERT trainings in the City of Houston, the City of Houston CERT Program guides CERT-trained members to an array of additional training and volunteer opportunities.
How You Can Prepare
Becoming a CERT Volunteer is a great way to be prepared for disaster, but even if CERT isn’t for you, there are some simple steps you can take to prepare for disaster.
- Make a Plan Make sure your family has a plan in case of an emergency. Before an emergency happens, sit down together and decide how you will get in contact with each other, where you will go, and what you will do in an emergency.
- Build a Disaster Kit Building a family emergency kit is crucial. During emergencies, you will need to be self-reliant for a period of time. You may want to consider two kits: a Go-Bag and a Stay-at-Home kit. A Go-bag includes essential items that you will take with you during an evacuation. It should be small and lightweight (like a backpack) and contain only the bare essentials (including copies of IDs and vital documents, a 14-day supply of medications, extra phone chargers, and a few personal items). A stay-at-home kit is designed for keeping you and your family ready for power outages and other longer-term issues. Make sure your stay-at-home kit includes five to seven days worth of food and water, personal grooming supplies, flashlights, a fire extinguisher, and copies of important documents.
- Stay Informed You can stay informed in a number of ways. A battery-powered radio is great for times when the power is out. Before disaster strikes, know your zip code and whether or not you live in a hurricane evacuation zone. If you have special needs, be sure to contact 2-1-1 for services that may be available. And meet your neighbors. Houston residents have a long history of working together to overcome hardship, and meeting those that live around you is the first step to building those networks.
- Know Your Neighbors Houston-area residents have a long history of working together to recover from disaster. Getting to know your neighbors now will help you work with them in the event of a disaster. Meeting your neighbors may also make you aware of those too elderly or too ill to independently plan or prepare themselves for a disaster.
For more information on preparedness, please see the City of Houston Preparedness Guide, which is available in several languages.
CERT Training in Houston
The CERT training program is designed to fit into community members’ ordinary schedules. The training is divided up into eight three-hour modules. During that time, trainees will have classes on the National CERT program, the organizational structure used by government agencies in disasters, basic first aid techniques, basic search and rescue techniques, and ways to ensure that the individual trainee and his or her family members are prepared for a disaster. Classes are taught by local professionals who have experience in the units they instruct. The courses are managed by a lead instructor who has undergone a Train-the-Trainer program which meets the FEMA and CERT standards. All CERT training is provided free-of-charge.
The CERT trainings in the greater Houston area are listed on the Harris County Citizen Corps webpage.