Disasters and emergencies can strike anytime and anywhere. The actions you take in the first minutes of an emergency are critical and can save lives. You may not be with your entire family when a disaster strikes, so it’s important to create and practice your family disaster plan before an actual emergency happens.
Make an Emergency Plan
Become familiar with what emergencies or disasters are likely to occur in your community. Some scenarios may call for evacuation while others will require you to find shelter.
- Be aware of National Weather Service messaging and news reports, as well as what your community’s public warning system signals sound like.
- Create a family emergency plan with roles for each individual, details on where to meet and how to get there. Don’t forget to include pets in your plan.
- Draw up a floor plan of your home that shows all the safe spots in your home as well as multiple escape routes. Choose two places to meet in case you are separated during an emergency including:
- Outside your home, in case of an emergency such as a home fire.
- Outside your neighborhood, in case you are asked to evacuate and cannot return home.
- Create a hard copy of your emergency plan, along with each household member’s personal and medical details. Keep the emergency plan and documents in an easy-to-find place.
- Have a Go Bag stocked with at least four days of essential supplies – water, food, flashlight, first aid kit, medicine and hygiene supplies.
- Inquire about or consider emergency plans for places where you spend your time: work, school and your commute. Make sure that the emergency contact information you provide is updated regularly.
- Write down your plan, share all the details with your family and make sure to practice it twice a year.
Emergency Communications Plan
Write down and share the details with your emergency contacts:
- Consider an out-of-area person (who lives far away enough not to be affected by the disaster) for all household members to contact in case of an emergency.
- If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (in case of emergency) in your contacts list. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
If you’re not in immediate danger, consider sending a text instead of calling. Texts can get around network disruptions more easily than a phone call. Remember to subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc.