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Develop a Family Disaster Plan

Having and practicing a family disaster plan will help keep your loved ones safe during an emergency. It is important that the entire family is prepared to respond, no matter what the situation. Since you may not always be together when these events occur, every family member needs to know how to contact each other and reconnect.

Knowing which types of disasters affect your area is essential for building a solid plan. Check with your local health department for information more specific to your area.


Creating the Plan

Talk with your family about why you need to prepare for a disaster. Explain the dangers and make a plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Discuss the types of disasters that could happen and use this checklist to create your Family Disaster Plan:

  • Pick two places to meet: one close to home and one outside your area in case you are unable to return home.
  • Make sure each family member knows the address, and phone number if possible, of the place where you plan to meet.
  • Discuss what to do if ordered to evacuate your home/area.
  • Keep emergency telephone numbers posted in an accessible area: add them to your smartphone contact list as well.
  • Have a phone charger for every family member and try to keep the phones fully charged.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.
  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity.
  • Show everyone where the fire extinguisher is kept and how to use it.
  • Install smoke/carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble an emergency supply kit.
  • Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Plan how to take care of your pets.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard.
  • Keep a portable, battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • Keep a small disaster supply kit in your vehicle(s).
  • Make two photocopies of vital documents and keep the originals in a safe deposit box. Keep one copy in a safe place in the house, and give the second copy to an out-of-town friend or relative.
  • Take a complete inventory of your home, garage and surrounding property. This list could help you prove the value of what you owned if your possessions are damaged or destroyed and can help you to claim deductions on taxes.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
  • Take a Red Cross First Aid and CPR class.


Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  • Conduct family fire and emergency evacuation drills every six months.
  • 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.       
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