Family Disaster Plan

Prepare for What Might Happen

Discuss with your family, friends and neighbors the types of disasters and emergencies that are most likely to happen and what to do in each case. Take a first aid, CPR or other class so that you have the knowledge to help yourself and others if needed. If you do not own a vehicle or drive, learn in advance what your community's arrangements are for those without private transportation.

Contact school officials to learn how they will notify you of your child's status if an emergency occurs. For older children who self-transport, ask them to follow the instructions of authorities.

Have an Out-Of-Town Contact

After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance than to get a local call to connect. Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be your family emergency contact. All family members should call this person in an emergency to check in.

Plan for Your Pets

Many emergency shelters will not accept pets other than service animals. Talk to your veterinarian or local humane society in advance about an emergency plan for your pets. Or, plan to shelter your pet with family, friends or in a pet-friendly motel.

If you do have to leave your pet at home, post stickers or signs on doors that are clearly visible from the outside. Specify what types and the number of animals.

Plan for the Mobility-Impaired

Keep support items in the same place, so they can always be found quickly. For those who have home-health caregivers, particularly for those who are bed-bound, it is essential to discuss emergency procedures with your service representative. Have an alternate plan. Know your neighbors and consider how they can assist you if the home-health caregiver cannot come to you.

Determine Where to Meet

Decide now where you and your family will meet in case you can't return home because of an emergency. Keep a record of the location's address and phone number, as well as the phone numbers of your family, with you at all times.

Insurance Coverage

Homeowners' insurance typically does not cover flood damage. If you live in an area that's prone to flooding, talk to your insurance agent about purchasing flood insurance.

Inventory Home Possessions

Make a visual or written record of your possessions to help you claim losses in the event of damage. Include photographs of cars, boats and recreational vehicles. Get professional appraisals of jewelry, collectibles, artwork or other items that might be difficult to evaluate. Also, photograph the exterior of your home. Include the landscaping that might not be insurable but does increase the value of your property for tax purposes. Make copies of receipts and canceled checks for valuable items.

Keep these and other vital records, such as your insurance policies and birth certificates, in one location in a waterproof container or in a safety deposit box. They will help you claim assistance.

Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do
  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
  • 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.

Family Emergency Plan PDF from FEMA