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Make a Plan

Your family may not be together when a disaster happens. The best way to keep everyone safe is to make an emergency plan ahead of time.

Disasters can happen suddenly, so knowing where your family is and how to communicate with them is important. That's why you need to make a plan and be prepared ahead of time.

Sit down with your whole family and think through different emergency or disaster situations:

  • What would we do in case of a fire, a hurricane, a flood, or a tornado?
  • Where would we meet if we got separated?
  • How will we communicate if phones are not working?
  • Who should be our family's emergency contacts?
  • Where should we go if we have to evacuate?
  • What if we have no home to return to?
  • If you have children, think about their level of understanding, as well.

Making Your Emergency Plan

Use the Emergency Plan Form to create your plan. Record information such as:

  • Birthdates
  • Social Security numbers (Social Security numbers should be kept separately from other information for identity security purposes.)
  • Medical provider contact information
  • Medical information, including a list of prescription medication and dosages
  • Medical and property insurance information
  • Work and school phone numbers and addresses
  • Emergency contacts
  • A designated evacuation site
  • A designated family reunification site
  • Telephone numbers of family and friends, including those you use frequently

Making your emergency plan includes preparing what you need to do before, during, and after a disaster, as well as preparing for stress, emotions, and mental health.

Local authorities will provide direction on the need to shelter in place or evacuate. You should have a plan and be prepared for either situation. If you must evacuate, where will you go and how will you get there? If you need to shelter in place, do you have what you need to survive for at least 72 hours?

Think about methods of communication. During many emergencies and disasters, cell phone networks may not work. Do you have another form of communication? How will you receive updates from local authorities to know when the emergency or disaster is over? How will you contact immediate and extended family members?

Keep in mind that some family members—such as children, the elderly, family members who need more assistance, and pets—may require additional considerations.

Once your plan is complete, print it and keep it in a safe place. And don't forget to practice your plan. Children may need to practice the plan more frequently. Be sure everyone knows important phone numbers and addresses without the use of a cell phone. The more you practice your plan, the safer you and your family will be before, during, and after a disaster.