Disasters seem to occur when we least expect them or when it is not convenient. Family emergency planning can be the key to keeping your family safe and together during an emergency. That's why it's important to talk to your family and prepare them for various emergencies. A Family Disaster Plan should be posted on the refrigerator, by the phone, or in some other conspicuous place. All family members should be familiar with it and should be prepared to take appropriate actions if they are at home alone when the disaster occurs. Be prepared to care for yourself and your family for at least 72 hours. City resources can become very limited in extreme circumstances.
Steps to developing a family disaster plan:
- Designate out-of-area contacts. Designate three people that should be far enough away that it is unlikely he or she would be affected by the same emergency. It is recommended that at least one be an out of state contact. Family members should call this person to report their location if they cannot reach each other. Provide your contact person with important names and numbers, prior to an incident, so they can assist in keeping others posted on your situation.
- Designate a location to meet in case it is impossible to return home or if you have to evacuate. Choose three - one near your home, one outside your immediate neighborhood, and one farther away. Make sure your family knows the address and phone number of both locations.
- Create an Emergency Supply Kit and a Go Bag. Make sure that all members of your household know where these supplies are.
Keep a flashlight and a pair of shoes by each bed.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Identify at least two separate escape routes and practice using them.
Train all family members on when and how to call 911.
- Familiarize yourself with emergency plans at places that are a part of your everyday life, such as school, work, church, day care, etc. Know their capabilities and what they expect of you during an emergency. Ensure that they have current contact information for you.
- Make sure your home is as safe and secure as possible.
- While making your plan, consider the special needs of children, seniors, persons with disabilities, non-English speakers, and pets in your household.
- Authorize a neighbor or relative to pick-up and care for children in your absence.
- Arrange for a neighbor or friend to check on elderly or disabled family members in your absence.
- Identify a method for evacuating disabled family members.
- Create communications card for each member of your household to keep with them at all times.
- Make copies of all important documents and keep them off-site in a secure location. Documents to include: passports, birth certificates, social security cards, wills, deeds, driver's licenses, financial documents, insurance information, and current prescriptions.
- Catalog and photograph valuables. Keep these with your second set of documents.