|Emergency Preparedness: Creating a Family Plan
Being prepared for an emergency can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses during an emergency. A key part is having a plan for what to do in case of an emergency. This plan should include how to communicate in an emergency, having items on-hand to cope with an emergency, and how to receive updates. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a great Family Emergency Plan document you can download at www.ready.gov, complete with clip and save cards for each family member to have. Once you determine your plan, be sure to communicate them to everyone that’s involved in your plan in advance.
1. Determine how to get in touch with each other
• Designate an emergency contact.
• Ask an out-of-state or out-of-town friend or relative to be a contact. It’s sometimes easier to call out-of-state if local service is disrupted.
• Gather and record the following phone numbers for each household member:
1. Cell phone number
2. Work/school/daycare phone number(s)
3. Friends home and cell phone numbers
• Program each emergency contact into your cell phone as “ICE” (in case of emergency) and then their name.
• Decide that each member will call or email the same person. Designate a call tree. For example, if Uncle Bob is not home, each person will contact Aunt Suzie instead.
• Be prepared to use a landline phone or a cell phone. If cell phones are not
working, you should try using a landline phone at a neighbor’s or friend’s house, or a public telephone.
• Post emergency numbers by all phones in the home.
• Each member of the family should keep a copy of the family’s contact numbers and meeting place(s) with them. The information can be kept in a backpack or wallet.
• Teach family members how to use text messaging, as they can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
• Teach all household members how and when to call 911 for emergency
• Give prepaid phone cards to every member of the family and ensure they know when and how to use them.
• Talk to your children’s schools about their emergency preparedness plans and find out how they will communicate with you during an emergency.
• Discuss with your neighbors how you can work together and help each other if an emergency strikes.
2. Determine how to physically meet each other
• Designate a primary place to meet and then choose a backup location outside your neighborhood in case you can’t get home.
• Talk to your children’s schools about their emergency preparedness plans and find out how they will communicate with you during an emergency. Ask if they store adequate water, food, and other basic supplies. Also find out if they are prepared to “shelter-in-place” if need be, and where they plan to go if they must get away.
• Authorize someone nearby to pick up your children from school in case you are unable to do so yourself during or after an emergency.
• Write down what to do if your child’s school or your workplace closes; review with each household member.
• Make back-up plans for children in case they are home and you can’t get home in an emergency.
3. Know how to be educated about emergencies
• Subscribe to alert services. Instant text alerts or emails will then let you know of bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc.
• Discuss with your neighbors how you can work together and help each other if an emergency strikes. For example, find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
<>4. Determine what to do regarding your pet(s)
• Make sure items for your pet(s) are included in your emergency supply kit.
• Determine what you’ll do with your pets if you must evacuate and can’t take
them with you and keep in mind you may not be able to take them to a shelter.
5. Create an emergency supply kit.
• Have an emergency supplies kit put together and ready. To know what to include in this kit, see the link on this site titled “Emergency Preparedness: Emergency Supply Kit”
• Make sure everyone knows where the emergency supplies kit and that it is accessible to everyone.
6. Identify any special needs, especially if you live alone or need assistance.
• Take the following steps if you live alone or need assistance:
1. Establish a personal support network made up of individuals who will check with you in an emergency.
2. You and your personal support network should notify each other when you are going out of town and when you will return.
3. Make sure your emergency supplies kit and any equipment you need such as a wheelchair, cane, or walker has an ID tag.
7. Create an evacuation plan.
Depending on your circumstances or the nature of the emergency, you may need to stay put or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. If you are specifically told to evacuate or seek medical treatment, do so immediately.
• Plan places where your family will meet, both within and outside of your immediate neighborhood.
• If you have a car, keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case you need to evacuate.
• If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to.
• Take your emergency supply kit unless you have reason to believe it has been contaminated.
• Lock the door behind you.
• Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters.
• Call or email the “out-of-state” contact in the family communications plan.
• Tell your “out-of-state” contact where you are going.
• If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving.
• Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
• Check with neighbors who may need a ride.