Make a Plan

Immediately after an emergency, essential services may be unavailable and local disaster relief and first responders may not be able to reach you. An emergency plan is essential to your survival and comfort.

Make an Emergency Plan

Learn about the natural hazards an d risks in your area, and talk to members of your household about what to do in each case.

Assemble disaster supplies for sheltering in place and in case of evacuation. Your emergency supplies should be individually tailored to meet the basic survival needs of your family for three days to a week. Many families store their shelter-in- place supplies in one location in the home, such as a 32-gallon trash can (can be portable if it has wheel), a footlocker or a cabinet. Others pack individual backpacks that can be easily carried if evacuation is necessary.

Plan how household members will stay in contact if separated. Identify at least two meeting places – the first near your home, the second away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Also, choose an out-of-town friend or relative as a single point of contact, and make sure each member of your household knows how to reach this person (a wallet-sized contact list for everyone to carry can be useful), by phone and by email.

  • Draw a floor plan of your home and designate two escape routes from each room.
  • Post-emergency numbers by the phone.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.

Download documents

Family Emergency Plan

Pet Emergency Plan

Make sure everyone in your home knows how and when to shut off water, gas and electricity at the main switches. The decision to turn off your utilities will vary depending on the type of emergency. Consult with your local utilities if you have questions. Their phone numbers can usually be found on your monthly bill.

Determine in advance of an emergency what to do with your pets. Except for service animals, animals are not allowed in public shelters.

Practice y our plan with your family regularly. Take the time to practice evacuating your home, and talk about "what if" scenarios with members of your household. Studies show t hat people w ho have thought about and practiced their emergency plans are much more likely to survive, and recover more quickly from disasters.

Emergency Planning for People with Special Needs

People with special needs may have to take additional steps to protect themselves and their households. If you have family members, friends or neighbors with special needs, you can help them with these additional precautions. Examples include:

  • Hearing impaired persons may need to make special arrangements to receive warnings about impending disasters.
  • Mobility impaired persons may need assistance in getting to a shelter or may need help evacuating their homes.
  • Households with working parents may need assistance with their children during an emergency.
  • Non-English speaking people may need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies. Community and cultural groups may be able to help these populations be prepared and informed.
  • People who do not drive or have a vehicle may need to make arrangements for transportation.
  • People with special dietary needs should have an adequate emergency food supply.

Resources for Special Needs Planning

Other Considerations

  • Check with employers and school officials about their emergency response plans. If you or your children are not at home when disaster strikes, it is important to know what to do at work, and what your child's school will be doing.
  • Take first aid and CPR classes. Official certification by the American Red Cross, the American Heart Association, or other certified instructors generally provides "good Samaritan" law protection for those giving first aid. Reduce the economic impact on your property by reviewing insurance policies, making sure they are current and meet your coverage needs.
  • Review life and health insurance policies to make sure they are current and provide the coverage you need.
  • Set up an emergency savings account for times of crisis. Keep a small amount of cash or traveler's checks in a safe place where you can get to it quickly.
  • Consider ways to help household members or neighbors who may need special assistance, such as the elderly, disabled, and those who are vision or hearing impaired