During your initial meeting you should have all of your family members present. Discuss the seriousness of disasters and emergencies with your family, and explain the necessity and importance of the Emergency Plan.
- Your plan should include, but not be limited to the suggestions below
- After developing your plan, print it
- Make sure all of your family members know where to find it
- Keep your plan with or near your emergency supplies in a common unobstructed area.
Your Family Emergency Plan
Designate your family meeting place
In the event of a major emergency, you may be separated from your family and may not be able to contact them via telephone/cell phone. Designate two locations your family members are familiar with:
- Location #1: Directly outside your residence
- Location #2: Location outside your neighborhood
Make sure all members of your family remain at the meeting place until emergency services arrive.
Choose an out-of-town contact
After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long distance phone call than a local call. Have three out-of-town relatives or friends be your contacts, and make sure all family members have their phone numbers.
Complete a family communications plan
Include contact information for family members; work and school. Include information for your out-of-town contact, meeting locations, emergency service numbers, etc. Be sure each family member has a copy and post a copy near each phone in the home. Sample forms are available at:
Escape routes and safe places
In an emergency, you may have to evacuate at a moment's notice. Be ready to get out fast. Be sure everyone in your home knows the best escape routes as well as where the safe places are in your home for each disaster.
Draw floor plans for your home and show the locations of:
- Large furniture
- Disaster supplies
- Fire extinguishers
- Smoke alarms
- First aid kits
- Utility shut off points
- Two escape routes
- Family meeting location outside
Conduct a home hazard hunt
During a disaster, ordinary objects can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or bookshelf not properly strapped can fall. Identify areas you can make safer by securing items to the wall, moving heavy objects from upper shelves to lower shelves, keeping flammable items away from heat sources, etc. Household chemicals should also be identified and properly stored or disposed of.
Plan for those with disabilities or other special needs
Keep support items in a designated place so they can be found quickly. For those who have home-health caregivers, particularly for those who are bed-bound, it is essential to have an alternate place if the home-health caregiver cannot make it to you. In advance, provide the power company with a list of all power-dependant life support equipment required by family members. Develop a contingency plan that includes an alternate power source for the equipment or relocating the person. Planning ideas and checklists can be found at:
Plan for your pets
Take your pets with you if you evacuate; however, be aware pets (other than service animals) are usually not permitted in public emergency shelters for health reasons. Prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians, and "pet-friendly" hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency. See the Emergency Preparedness for your Pets section for more information.
Prepare an action checklist of items to do before a disaster
- Know how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity at the main switches or valves and share this information with your household. Keep any tools needed near gas and water shut off valves.
- Turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged, you suspect a leak, or if local officials instruct you to do so. If the gas is turned off for any reason, only a qualified professional can turn it back on.
- Take a first aid and CPR/AED class.
- Enroll in a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) class.
- Be sure everyone knows how to use a fire extinguisher and where they are kept.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near the bedrooms. Individuals with sensory disabilities should consider installing smoke alarms that have strobe lights and vibrating pads. Follow local codes and manufacturer’s instructions regarding installation requirements. Also, consider installing a carbon monoxide alarm in your home.
- Obtain adequate insurance coverage. Homeowners insurance normally does not cover flood damage and may not provide full-coverage for other hazards.
- Inventory home possessions to help you claim reimbursement in case of loss or damage. Store this information in a safe deposit box or other secure (flood/fire safe) location to ensure the records survive a disaster.
- Include photographs or video of the interior and exterior of your home as well as cars, boats and recreational vehicles.
- Also, have photos of durable medical equipment and be sure to make a record of the make and model numbers for each item.
- Get professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork or other items that may be difficult to evaluate. Make copies of receipts and cancelled checks showing the cost for valuable items.