Emergency Levels

Understanding and Responding to Different Types of Emergencies

Emergencies come in various forms and magnitudes, requiring different levels of response and coordination. Recognizing the severity of an emergency and knowing how to respond can significantly enhance safety and reduce the impact on affected areas. This guide outlines the three levels of emergencies, providing clear descriptions, characteristics, and examples to help you understand and prepare for each type.

Level 1: Major Disaster

A Level 1 emergency signifies a major disaster or imminent threat with extensive impacts on the affected area. These emergencies necessitate immediate and comprehensive responses due to their wide-ranging and complex effects.


  • Mandatory Immediate Notification: All relevant authorities and emergency personnel must be notified immediately.

  • Reduction or Suspension of Normal Operations: Normal operations may be halted to focus resources and efforts on emergency response.

  • Wide-Ranging and Complex Effects: These incidents require extensive coordination among multiple agencies and resources.

  • Activation of Emergency Plans: The Integrated Emergency Management Plan (IEMP) and the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) are fully activated.


  • Major Tornado

  • Multi-Structure Fire

  • Major Hazardous Materials Release

  • Terrorism Incident

For detailed guidance and preparedness tips for Level 1 emergencies, click here.

Level 2: Major Incident

A Level 2 emergency denotes a significant incident that disrupts a sizable portion of the affected community. While not as extensive as Level 1, these incidents still require significant resources and coordination.


  • Timely Notifications: Notifications are made promptly, as determined by incident commanders based on the situation's urgency.

  • Assistance from External Organizations: May involve aid from external agencies and organizations.

  • Possible Activation of Emergency Plans: The IEMP and EOC may be partially or fully activated depending on the incident's scope.


  • Structure Fire

  • Severe Flooding

  • Multi-Fatality Incident

  • Significant Hazardous Materials Release

For detailed guidance and preparedness tips for Level 2 emergencies, click here.

Level 3: Minor Incident

A Level 3 emergency indicates a minor, localized incident with limited impact beyond the affected area. These incidents are typically manageable with minimal disruption to normal operations.


  • Warning Notifications: Issued as time permits, focusing on the immediate area affected.

  • Limited Impact: Little to no impact outside the directly affected area.

  • No Activation of Emergency Plans: The IEMP and EOC are not activated for these minor incidents.


  • Odor Complaint

  • Small Fire

  • Localized Power Failure

  • Plumbing Failure

For detailed guidance and preparedness tips for Level 3 emergencies, click here.

Preparing for Emergencies

Understanding these emergency levels helps you recognize the severity of a situation and respond appropriately. Here are general steps you can take to prepare for any emergency:

  1. Stay Informed: Monitor local news, weather reports, and official alerts.

  2. Create an Emergency Kit: Include essential items such as food, water, medications, and first aid supplies.

  3. Develop a Family Emergency Plan: Ensure all family members know what to do and where to go in case of different types of emergencies.

  4. Practice Regular Drills: Familiarize yourself and your family with emergency procedures through regular drills.

Additional Resources