Creating a Family Disaster Plan
Family Disaster Plan
Disaster can strike quickly
and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine
you to your home. What would you do if basic services--water, gas, electricity
or telephones--were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the
scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
Families can--and do--cope
with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow the
steps listed in this brochure to create your family's disaster plan. Knowing
what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.
Where will your family be
when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere--at work, at school or in the car.
How will you find each
other? Will you know if your children are safe?
4 Steps to Safety
1. Find Out What Could
Happen to You
Contact your local
emergency management or civil defense office and American Red Cross chapter--be
prepared to take notes.
2. Create a Disaster Plan
- Ask what types of
disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare
- Learn about your
community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do
when you hear them.
- Ask about animal care
after disaster. Animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters due
to health regulations.
- Find out how to help
elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
- Next, find out about
the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare
center and other places where your family spends time.
Meet with your family and
discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire,
severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and
work together as a team.
3. Complete This Checklist
- Discuss the types of
disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
- Pick two places to
1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
2. Outside your
neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address
and phone number.
- Ask an out-of-state
friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, its often
easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person
and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone
- Discuss what to do in
an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
4. Practice and Maintain Your
- Post emergency
telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
- Teach children how
and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for
- Show each family
member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main
- Check if you have
adequate insurance coverage.
- Teach each family
member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where
- Install smoke
detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
- Conduct a home hazard
- Stock emergency
supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
- Take a Red Cross
first aid and CPR class.
- Determine the best
escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
- Find the safe spots
in your home for each type of disaster.
- 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.
Keep enough supplies in
your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster
Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in
sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash
- A three-day supply of
water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
- One change of
clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per
- A first aid kit that
includes your family's prescription medications.
- Emergency tools
including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra
- An extra set of car
keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
- Special items for
infant, elderly or disabled family members.
- An extra pair of
- Keep important family
documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of
Locate the main electric
fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn
these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools
near gas and water shut-off valves.
Remember, turn off the
utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to
do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back
Working with neighbors can
save lives and property. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood
could work together after a disaster until help arrives. If you're a member of a
neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group,
introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity. Know your neighbors' special
skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who
have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child
care in case parents can't get home.
HOME HAZARD HUNT
During a disaster,
ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can
move, fall, break or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water
heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix
Contact your local fire
department to learn about home fire hazards.
Evacuate immediately if
told to do so:
If you're sure you have time:
- Listen to your
battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency
- Wear protective
clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Take your family
disaster supplies kit.
- Use travel routes
specified by local authorities--don't use shortcuts because certain areas
may be impassable or dangerous.
IF DISASTER STRIKES
- Shut off water, gas
and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
- Post a note telling
others when you left and where you are going.
- Make arrangements for
If disaster strikes
Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
Check for injuries
Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
Listen to your battery
powered radio for news and instructions
Evacuate, if advised to do
so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
Check for damage in your
- Use flashlights--do
not light matches or turn on electrical switches, if you suspect damage.
- Check for fires, fire
hazards and other household hazards.
- Sniff for gas leaks,
starting at the water heater. If you smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off
the main gas valve, open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
- Shut off any other
- Clean up spilled
medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other flammable liquids immediately.
- Confine or secure
- Call your family
contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening
- Check on your
neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
- Make sure you have an
adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
- Stay away from downed
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