Emergency situations can occur quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity or telephones were cut off?
Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Listed below are great beginning steps to create your family’s emergency plan.
Prepare a Family Emergency Plan
Natural or man-made disasters and emergencies can occur at any time. To help protect your family, it’s important to prepare a family emergency plan. Below are some important parts of an emergency plan:
Family Emergency Communication Plan
Complete your Family Emergency Communication Plan, including an emergency contact list. Complete the plan online at ready.gov/make-a-plan and you can print it onto a wallet-sized card for everyone in your family. The plan should include the following information:
- Name, cell, social media, email, and important medical and other information for everyone in the family
- Name, phone, address, and website of each child’s school, childcare center, and caregiver
- Emergency contact person, including their phone, cell, email, and address
- Out-of-Town contact, including their phone, cell, email, and address
- Police, fire, doctor, dentist, hospital, pharmacy, and medical insurance information
- Gas, water, and electric companies contact information
- Emergency meeting place: in neighborhood, out-of-neighborhood, and out-of-town
Prepare Emergency Supplies
- Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble an Emergency Kit with items you may need in an evacuation:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
- Canned goods and non-perishable food
- Manual can opener and utensils
- First aid kit
- One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person
- A battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries
- Sanitation supplies
- Unique needs your family may have, including prescriptions and items for infant, elderly or disabled family members, and your pets
- Dust masks to filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place.
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- An extra pair of glasses
- Cell phone with chargers and backup battery
- Determine a regular schedule to rotate the items in your Emergency Kit and be aware of expiration dates.
- Keep important family documents in a waterproof and fireproof container.
- Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car including a blanket for the winter season.
Other Emergency Plan Recommendations
Plan and be familiar with escape routes from your neighborhood.
Have a battery-operated or hand crank radio and extra batteries.
Include pets in your family disaster plan—including a kennel, food, water, sanitary items and toys.
Consider buying a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Weather Radio.
Teach children how and when to call 911.
Show responsible family members how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
Conduct a home hazard hunt.
Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
Practice and Maintain your Plan
Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.