Another voice: Bracing for the worst: Making your own emergency plan

Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to think about the following situations and plan just in case. Consider these questions when making a plan:

How will my family/household get emergency alerts and warnings?

How will my family/house-hold get to safe locations for relevant emergencies?

How will my family/household get in touch if cell phone, internet, or landline doesn’t work?

How will I let loved ones know I am safe?

How will family/household get to a meeting place after the emergency?

Here are a few easy steps to start your emergency communication plan:

  1. Understand how to receive emergency alerts and warnings: Make sure all household members are able to get alerts about an emergency from local officials. Check with your local emergency management agency to see what is available in your area, and learn more about alerts by visiting

  2. Discuss family/household plans for disasters that may affect your area and plan where to go: Plan together in advance so that everyone understands where to go during different types of disaster, like a hurricane, tornado, or wildfire.

  3. Collect information: Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family that includes phone (work, cell, office), email, social media, medical facilities (doctors, service providers), and school.

  4. Identify information and pick an emergency meeting place:

Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite.

Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs.

If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.

Examples of meeting places:

In your neighborhood: mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house

Outside of your neighborhood: library, community center, place of worship, or family friend’s home

Outside of your town or city: home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.

Share information: make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, or wallet. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.

  1. Practice your plan. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans and meeting place after a disaster, and then practice, just like you would a fire drill.

Building your emergency kit

A basic emergency supply kit could include the following recommended items:

Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable items

Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

Flashlight and extra batteries

First aid kit

Whistle to signal for help

Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place

Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

Manual can opener for food

Local maps

Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

Additional emergency supplies

Once you have gathered the supplies for a basic emergency kit, you may want to consider adding the following items:

Prescription medications and glasses

Infant formula and diapers

Pet food and extra water for your pet

Cash or traveler’s checks and change

Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or free information from websites

Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person

Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes

Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper — When diluted, nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant, or use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water (do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners)

Fire extinguisher

Matches in a waterproof container

Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items

Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils

Paper and pencil

Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children

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