Family Disaster Plan

Family Disaster Plan

After a disaster, local emergency resources will be activated, but may not be able to reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it may take days. Would your family be prepared to cope with the emergency until help arrives?

Disasters can happen anytime and anywhere. And when disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond. A highway spill of hazardous material could mean instant evacuation. A winter storm could confine your family at home. An earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off basic services - gas, water, electricity and telephones for days.

You and your family will be able to handle an emergency by preparing before disaster strikes. One way to prepare is by having a Family Disaster Plan. Once disaster hits, you won't have time to think about what to do or where to go.

How to Prepare a Family Disaster Plan

Contact your local emergency management office and your local American Red Cross chapter
  • Find out which disasters are most likely to happen in your community.
  • Ask how you would be warned.
  • Find out how to prepare for each.
  • Get a Family Disaster Supplies Kit list.
Meet with your family
  • Discuss the types of disasters that could occur.
  • Explain how to prepare and respond.
  • Discuss what to do if advised to evacuate.
  • Practice what you have discussed. 
Plan how your family will stay in contact if separated by disaster
  • Pick two meeting places:
    1. a location a safe distance from your home in case of evacuation.
    2. a place outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
  • Choose an out-of-state friend as a "check-in contact" for everyone to call. 
Make emergency preparations
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by every phone.
  • Show responsible family members how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at main switches.
  • Install a smoke detector on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms;
  • Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
  • Learn first aid and CPR. Contact your local American Red Cross chapter for information and training.
  • Make a Family Disaster Supplies Kit.
Meet with your neighbors
  • Plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster.
  • Know your neighbors' skills (medical, technical).
  • Consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.
Practice and maintain your plan
  • Once your plan is complete, perform an initial test of all parts of the plan.
  • On a regular basis, test your plan.
    1. Perform a family evacuation of your home.
    2. Call your emergency numbers to verify that they are correct.
    3. Test smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year.
    4. Check your Family Disaster Supplies Kit.