Preparing for Emergencies

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The logo of Preparing for Emergencies.

Preparing for Emergencies was a public information scheme, produced by the Home Office, a department of the United Kingdom Government, advising British citizens on what to do in the event of a natural disaster, accident or terrorism. The scheme was started on 26 July 2004 in the wake of several major disasters including the 11 March 2004 Madrid train bombings, SARS and the 2001 UK foot and mouth crisis, in the form of a 22-page booklet which covered topics such as transport accidents, health, foot and mouth disease, terrorism and fire safety.[1]

The booklet was distributed to all UK households but received some criticism - comparing it to Protect and Survive, a 1980s Public Information Film that instructed people on how to remain safe from nuclear war. Some sections of the media also accused the Government of "scaremongering", although information was provided on topics other than terrorism.

Soon after the website accompanying the booklet was launched, a spoof website appeared,, said to be from "HM Department of Vague Paranoia"; it parodied the seemingly obvious advice given by the booklets, and gave such advice as: "Alien Invasion: Negotiate using sign language, if possible. Failing that, and assuming they aren't armed with futuristic ray guns, run like hell."[2] The Home Office initially objected to the website, stating that the URL was too similar to that of their own website,, and threatened to close the website down. However, after a link to the official website was added, the Home Office conceded the issue, and allowed the site to remain online.

Following the original distribution, no more booklets have been produced, although the website was updated with advice on possible bird flu epidemics and the 7 July 2005 London bombings.

In 2011/12 the website was permanently closed, and official emergency preparedness information[3] for the UK was moved to the website.


The parts of the logo are used to indicate resources or actions to follow in an emergency. From left to right, they are:[4]

  • "i" on blue background - information
  • "999" on purple background - What to do in an emergency (Emergency Services)
  • right arrow on green background - Go in
  • lock on red background - Stay in
  • dash on yellow background - Tune in (to local radio or television)
  • cross on turquoise background - administer first aid

The logo is still used by local government organisations giving information on civil defence.[4][5] The development of the logo cost £17,000 in 2004.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Terror advice pamphlet unveiled, BBC News, 2004
  2. ^ Also, the spoof site references the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost film Shaun of the Dead, by saying "The assailants can be stopped by removing the head or destroying the brain. Suitable tools you may find in your shed include shovels, cricket bats, and similar items." Spoof website will stay online, BBC News, 2004
  3. ^ HM Government guidance, Cabinet Office, 2016
  4. ^ a b "Let's get prepared". Staffordshire Prepared. Staffordshire Civil Contingencies Unit. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  5. ^ "Don't Panic - Prepare!" (PDF). City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 
  6. ^ Murphy, Jim (12 December 2005). "Cabinet Office - Departmental Expenditure". Written Answers. UK Parliament. Retrieved 13 October 2016. 

External links[edit]