An official website of the United States government
Here’s how you know
Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.
Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( Lock A locked padlock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites. .
Archived Content. This page contains information that may not reflect current policy or programs. Learn more
Have an emergency plan for your family
Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes so it is important to plan in advance: how you will get to a safe place; how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
Ready.gov has made it simple for you to make a family emergency plan. Download the Family Emergency Plan (FEP) (PDF - 750 Kb) and fill out the sections before printing it or emailing it to your family and friends.
There are actions that should be taken before, during and after an event that are unique to each hazard . Identify the hazards that have happened or could happen in your area and plan for the unique actions for each. Local emergency management offices can help identify the hazards in your area and outline the local plans and recommendations for each. Find out from local government emergency management how you will be notified for each kind of disaster, both natural and man-made.
Needs of Specific Family Members
As part of tailoring your plans, consider working with others to create networks of neighbors, relatives, friends and co-workers who will assist each other in an emergency. Discuss your needs, responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.
Plan for Locations
While there are warnings for many types of potential disasters, many emergencies and disasters occur without any warning. Since you can’t predict where you will be for disasters, it is important to have plans and supplies for the locations you and your household go to regularly. Planning ahead will ensure that you and your household will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.
Individuals and households should consider the locations they frequent; find out what plans are available for these locations, and customize their personal and household plans based on what household members would do if an emergency occurred while they were at that location.
For more detailed information, visit //www.ready.gov/make-a-plan .
SafeHome.org may receive compensation from some providers listed on this page. Learn More
We may receive compensation from some providers listed on this page. Learn More
5 Simple But Critical Steps to Making a Family Emergency Plan
Let’s face it, we as parents have a lot of things to worry about – and fretting about our children’s safety is at the very top of the list. You wake up in the middle of the night with the thought, “What if there’s a fire? Do my kids know what to do?” Or, even worse, “Do I know what to do?”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends every family put together a detailed emergency plan, in addition to gathering supplies to be able to enact that plan if or when the time comes.
One of the first steps you need to consider is what type of disaster is likely to occur where you live. While a fire can happen anywhere – and you should be prepared for a fire – other areas experience hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and so on. You’ll need to tailor your family’s emergency plan to your geographical location.
In addition to being mindful of your area’s particular challenges, you need to think seriously about your own family's unique needs. Some family members may take crucial medications or need specialized baby formula, or you may have multiple pets that will have to be accounted for, or a senior relative who lives nearby may need checking on. Focus on your individual family situation, in addition to having all the basics.
Pro Tip: When prepping for a disaster, you should think about your plan in three phases: before, during, and after the emergency occurs. If you focus on the “before” part, as in prepare, plan, and practice, the “during” and “after” parts will go a lot better.
No matter what natural disasters can occur in your area, or your particular needs, there are steps you can take to be as ready as you possibly can. Start making a plan today, because you don't want to be caught unprepared when a crisis strikes.
Creating Your Family Emergency Plan
Step 1: identity your area’s and family’s specific needs..
Before you can make a plan, you need to know what it is you’re planning for. You also need to focus on who you are planning for. Think about your kids, your pets, and your elderly parents, or your neighbors.
Are you preparing for a flood, an earthquake, or a hurricane? Once you’ve thought this through, you can plan appropriately.
If it’s for an earthquake, for example, you will need to earthquake-proof your house as much as possible. Check around your home for objects that can fall that may be ill-placed, secure cabinets to the wall, make sure you have eyeglasses and closed-toe shoes in an easily accessible place that won’t shift during the shaking, and so on.
Once you’ve done your pre-prepping, you can move on to forming the actual plan.
STEP 2: Write your plan down on paper.
FEMA’s website Ready.gov offers you a template for making sure you have all the information that you need. Important phone numbers, including schools, neighbors, doctors, and vets; medications; insurance plans; and other important information should all be written down.
Remember that your cell service may be out, and if your phone dies, you may not have access to a lot of important information that most of us keep stored on our devices.
Print out copies and keep them in a place you can easily access. Don’t rely on an app or your computer in case they aren’t accessible or the battery has died.
Once you have the list of your important numbers, make a checklist of what needs to be done around the house during the emergency. Such tasks may include shutting off valves for gas or water; checking for injuries; looking for downed power lines; sweeping away debris, such as broken glass; and calling your out-of-town contact.
Pro Tip: Consider purchasing a fireproof, easily portable box that contains your most important documents and photos . Don’t wait until an evacuation order is in place or your smoke alarm goes off to gather these items.
STEP 3: Create a disaster kit.
According to FEMA, you need to plan on supplies that will last for at least three days. It offers a detailed suggestion list on its website, but everyone’s kit will be different.
The basics should include:
- A gallon of clean water per person per day
- Nonperishable food, such as canned and dried goods
- Flashlights or lanterns
- A battery-powered radio
- A first-aid kit
- Travel cellphone chargers (make sure they’re fully charged)
- Extra batteries
- Masks (in case of contaminated air)
- A can opener
- A wrench or pliers for turning off utilities
- A camping stove and propane
Other items to consider:
- Extra vital medications
- Baby formula/diapers
- Waterproof matches
- Board games, puzzles, etc.
- Paper plates and napkins
- A fire extinguisher
Pro Tip: For those seniors in your life, you might want to consider a reliable medical alert system so that they can reach you or emergency personnel easily during a crisis.
STEP 4: Set meeting places and contacts.
Emergencies can happen when family members are at work or school, or just out and about. You may also have relatives who live nearby, such as elderly parents, who will need to be part of your plan. Make a plan with the less mobile seniors in your life to stay put and you will get to them.
Set a meeting place, both for near home, in town, and out of town, in case you are separated from your family members. Be specific, such as Mom’s walk-in closet, or the oak tree at the end of the driveway, or by the mailbox, or the post office on Main Street, or Aunt Sue’s house. Whatever the place is, be very specific.
If you have school-aged children, make sure you are aware of their school’s emergency plans and how, when, and where you would pick up a child. Check to make sure another parent or relative is cleared to pick up your child in case you can’t get there.
Designate an out-of-town contact person who everyone is aware of. Sometimes local phone lines are busy during an emergency, but you can get through to someone in another state. Pick a person, make sure everyone knows who it is and has their number, and check in with that person as soon as you’re able. If you’re separated from loved ones, it’s a good backup system to get an update on everyone’s safety.
Did You Know? FEMA has a newly designed app that will give you real-time updates on disasters, plus planning tips, weather maps, and more. Download it as another tool in your emergency planning arsenal.
STEP 5: Perform drills.
It’s very common to panic in an emergency situation, so practicing your escape when you’re not actually in an emergency is vital. For example, in the case of a fire, experts recommend setting a goal of three minutes to get out of the house. Set a timer and practice by simulating the situation with your family. Have them exit the house the same way they would if there were an actual fire, and suss out any trouble spots and issues.
If there are teenagers in your midst, this step may draw eye rolls, but it’s very important. Remind them that there is a reason they perform drills at school!
Research the best way to react during whatever disaster you are most likely to experience, such as the proper way of sheltering during a tornado, the best place to drop and cover during an earthquake, or how you will evacuate ahead of a hurricane. Talking about it is good, but actually doing it is better.
It’s easy to put off prepping for an emergency because it doesn’t feel urgent until it actually happens. But the best way to survive a disaster is to prepare, and then prepare some more. A little planning in advance can make a stressful event less unpleasant for everyone. You can’t possibly anticipate every scenario, but start today to build your emergency plan and kit, and you’ll rest easier knowing you’ve done all that you can.
Start free trial
Crafting a Family Emergency Plan: Essential Elements
Jan 18, 2024
Keeping you and your family safe should be a priority during times of crisis. Doing what's best for your loved ones involves being wise and making the best decisions, such as creating a family emergency plan.
However, developing one takes time. This guide covers all the essentials to create an effective energy family plan and provides tips and guidance to ensure you and your family are safe during times of uncertainty. Key Takeaways
Having a family emergency plan helps ensure your family is protected. Whether it's a natural disaster or a public health crisis, an emergency plan will better prepare you.
A family emergency plan should be well thought out and include important information. Typically, it has a communication strategy and an evacuation plan establishing a defined meeting point.
There are always ways to improve your family emergency plan. Practices such as doing drills and staying informed can help you make small improvements to the plan.
The Importance of Crafting a Family Emergency Plan
A family emergency plan increases the chances of your family’s safety during an emergency event . The plan typically includes instructions on what to do to ensure safety.
Establishing a family emergency plan reduces the time it takes to respond appropriately to threats. However, it requires adequate planning and consideration of such events to make them effective.
For example, in a natural disaster such as a nearby wildfire, a good family plan should address “how to act, where to go, and how to communicate.” In this scenario, you could gather certain essential items, head to a safe location from the wildfire, and reach out to emergency contacts.
In most cases, not every family emergency plays out the same way. Having various plans can help your family be more flexible in responding to various emergency situations.
What Should a Family Emergency Plan Include?
Here are some important things to consider as you construct your emergency family plan.
A well-thought-out communication plan involves establishing who to contact and how to do so during an emergency.
Create a list of emergency contacts for services or trustworthy people you know can help. Document the list and place it in an accessible location for easy access.
Within the emergency contact list, include the means of reaching out, which may be phone numbers, email, and location addresses, as well as any other means of contact, such as social media accounts.
When developing an evacuation plan, identify the threat, and determine the best means of escape based on the event.
Making emergency plans for various scenarios, such as natural disasters, a break-in, or a national emergency, can help tailor the plan for the most efficient and safest evacuation method.
Map out the most effective evacuation routes and include details of alternative routes to take if one direction is not feasible. Include details on modes of transportation and note any items you should bring with you.
Have a Grab-and-Go Bag
Creating an accessible grab-and-go bag with essential items should be at the top of the list when developing any sort of evacuation plan. To determine what items are essential to include in your bag, consider the nature of the threat. If it's a situation where you won't have access to the house for a prolonged period, include a change of clothes. In addition, always include items you or your family can’t live without, such as essential medications. Incorporate basic necessities like food and water as well.
Remember to put the grab-and-go bag in a convenient location that’s quick and easy to reach during an emergency.
Take Essential Documents
Documents are one of the most common things people forget to take during an evacuation. Don’t make that mistake. Some documents, such as IDs, communication information, or irreplaceable legal papers, can lead to challenges later down the road when they aren’t in your possession.
Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management Specialist at FEMA, Nick Miller , advises:
“You have to prioritize. What is the most important stuff to get out? I always say that is clothing, food, your emergency shelter supplies, and your important papers. I would have all your important papers and documents backed up.”
One recommendation is to make copies of any important documents that you have. Create both physical and digital versions so you will always have a backup. Of course, there might not be time to grab hard copies if evacuation from an emergency is urgent. Storing important documents online ensures their safety.
We have you covered if you want reliable online storage to protect your important documents. Trustworthy offers an online platform to store and organize all your essential documents for later access. In the event of an emergency, you can rest assured knowing everything is kept safe and organized whenever you need it.
Knowing where to meet up during a family emergency is essential. Choose a spot before the crisis occurs.
When determining a meetup location for your family, you must consider certain factors. One is how accessible the location is for all of your family members. Ideally, find one centralized location that’s achievable for all members to reach.
The meetup location must also be accessible during the emergency itself. If the known threat could block off the location, have an alternative strategy for your family to reach safety.
Consider reevaluating family emergency plans from time to time to determine their effectiveness. Do an emergency drill to test and gauge if it's the right means of evacuation for you and your family.
Plan for Shelter-in-Place Scenarios
Sometimes, there are emergencies where it’s safer to shelter in place. Identifying these situations and planning accordingly helps ensure the best safety.
If the environment is too dangerous to leave your home, such as certain natural disasters or moments of political unrest, fortifying your location may be wiser than trying to abandon it.
Planning for sheltering in place requires you to stockpile essential resources, such as non-perishable foods, water, and medicines, to allow you to stay in place for a prolonged period. Being prepared for either sheltering in place or evacuating can help ensure your family's safety.
Stockpile Certain Supplies
During times of crisis, you don’t know when things will eventually settle. This is why you must stockpile certain items to ensure their safety and well-being for the long term.
With family emergency planning, stockpile supplies that will help protect your family from harm and keep them healthy when the emergency ends. Stockpiling is encouraged for shelter-in-place scenarios. However, you can also do it in advance for determined evacuation designations.
Only stockpile essential items. Here’s a list to take into consideration:
2-week supply of water (as recommended by FEMA )
2-week supply of non-perishable foods
First aid supplies
Personal hygiene items
Emergency lighting (flashlights, lamps)
Tools (knives, scissors, etc.)
Important documents (IDs, legal documentations, etc.)
Cooking appliances (pots, utensils, etc.)
Tips to Ensure Your Family Emergency Plan Is Foolproof
There is more to creating a family emergency plan than just planning. To help get the most out of it, follow these tips to ensure it’s effective when the time comes to follow through.
Practice the Emergency Plan
It’s a good idea to practice the plan through a series of drills and routines.
Some evacuation plans require you and your family to leave the area within minutes of the situation. In events where time is crucial, practicing drills is a good way of testing the efficiency of your strategy. If it takes too long to escape, you can adjust the pace as needed to address the time limit. Practicing and going through your established emergency plans at least once or twice a year helps keep you and your family sharp on emergency protocols.
Staying informed on current events is a great way to be ahead of the curve when planning for potential disasters. You can plan ahead for some disasters by following reputable news sources. For example, news outlets notify people about natural disasters in advance, which can help you decide what's best for your family. The best way to stay informed is to subscribe to alert services on your phone. They tend to be the most reliable in informing whether the state of emergency is lifted and can often provide you with information on what to do and how to prepare.
Learn Prepper Basics
Being willing to learn basic prepper skills is greatly beneficial for you in being adept and providing safety for your family. Some skills such as first aid, effective communication, and food storage can help prepare you for almost any situation. Encouraging your family to learn with you is recommended, so they also learn the best practices.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How many steps are there for creating a family emergency plan?
While the number of steps may vary depending on the situation, here’s a common series of steps to take:
Step One: Determine likely risks
Step Two: Communicate with family
Step Three: Create a list of things you need and plans for emergencies
Step Four: Practice the emergency plans (evacuation and shelter-in-place) regularly
What are examples of family emergency meeting places?
Designated family meeting locations can be any safe and secure place. Some common locations include a room in a house, a nearby landmark, a community center, or another house or building within close access.
What is an example of a public emergency?
A public emergency is an event posing a significant threat to you and your family. These can be anything from natural disasters to public health crises, and industrial accidents to terrorist attacks or civil unrest.
Try Trustworthy today.
Try the Family Operating System® for yourself. You (and your family) will love it.
Try Trustworthy free
No credit card required.
Jan 31, 2024
Schools' Emergency Guidelines: A Critical Overview
Jan 26, 2024
School Emergencies Exposed: The Alarming Reality
Jan 24, 2024
School Liability: Student Safety Beyond the Classroom
First Aid Skills Every Teacher Should Know
Jan 22, 2024
Emergency Note Essentials for Every Babysitter
Jan 19, 2024
Why Your Emergency Contact Matters: A Must-Read Guide
Minors As Emergency Contacts: Is It Legal?
Jan 11, 2024
Essential Emergency Medical Supplies: A Comprehensive List
Jan 10, 2024
Effective Communication in Emergency Situations
Jan 9, 2024
Daycare Emergency Plans: Preparing for the Unthinkable
Mar 6, 2023
The Top 5 Pieces of Information People Want Their Loved Ones to Have in an Emergency
Feb 1, 2023
How To Ask For Time Off For A Funeral (10 Templates)
- SEVENTY2® Pro
- The Overlander X YETI - 15L
- Basecamp x YETI - 30L
- Basecamp x YETI - 60L
- DECKED D-Bag Pro
- Survival System Refills
- Survival System Inserts
- Custom Branding
- First Aid Plus
- First Aid Pro
- First Aid Core
- The Triage Kit
- The Wolf Pack
- Duration Health Med Kit
- Slishman Pressure Wrap
- OTEC Aer Cervical Collar
- The Zeus Pro Jump Starter
- Pale Blue Batteries
- The Vault 65L Duffel Bag
- Waterproof Backpacks
- Decked D-Bag Pro
- The Zeus Pro
- The Extractor Tow Strap
- Water Bottles
- Klean Freak
- Half Face Blades
- Garmin GPS Watches
- Peak Refuel
- Auto Bundle
- Hydration Bundle - Nalgene
- Hydration Bundle - Stainless
- New Products
- Uncharted Approved
- Survival / Preparedness
- Camping / Overlanding
- Mental and Physical Fitness
- Life Uncharted Podcast
No matter where in the world you live—whatever the climate or region may be—the place where you pitch your tent is most likely susceptible to at least one kind of natural disaster. Between earthquakes and hurricanes, tornadoes and volcanoes, Mother Nature wields a wrathful arsenal capable of threatening the lives of everyone across the country.
The safety of you and your family is paramount. You should be ready to evacuate your family to safer ground should one of nature’s mercenaries loom on the horizon. Given the speed and unpredictability of natural disaster scenarios, prompt and speedy evacuation may be a necessity—and preparedness will be your be your best bet at keeping everyone out of harm’s way. Use these disaster survival tips to make a family emergency plan and protect you and your loved ones’ safety.
What’s in a Family Emergency Plan?
Evacuation route, transportation, protect your home, evacuating children.
- Disaster Preparedness for Elders and Disabled Persons
Pet Evacuation Plan
Meeting locations, evacuation drills, emergency contact, 3. shelter plan, 4. build an emergency kit, 5. important papers to keep in case of emergency, 6. staying informed.
A family emergency plan is a terrific way to ready your family for worst-case scenarios. You can make a step-by-step guide as thorough or basic as you’d like, but having a rehearsed family emergency plan on hand could save minutes during times when lives depend on every second. At its minimum, a family emergency plan is an action agenda that outlines the preparations, communications, and procedures of your family during a disaster scenario.
A family emergency plan may help ensure that:
- Your family quickly escapes from harm's way
- Your family is prepared to evacuate with the necessary belongings and supplies
- Your family knows where to regroup should they be separated
You should write down your family emergency plan, commit it to memory, educate all family members, and practice it well. If you need help creating a well-thought-out, play-by-play manual for when a near-disaster is at hand, we can help! Just follow the instructions below.
1. Written Evacuation Plan
Evacuation is a stressful scenario that most people hope they’re never forced to do. No one wants to abandon their home to chance, knowing their life’s worth of belongings and mementos may be at risk of theft or destruction. Some homeowners wait until the last possible minute to evacuate, hoping that the emergency will dissipate before it reaches their property.
That’s a risky and often fatal strategy. Certain disaster situations—like storms, floods, and wildfires—are incredibly unpredictable, and can change in direction and severity at any moment; one hour your home is safe, the next hour it’s sitting right in the path of destruction. If you choose not to evacuate because you believe in your ability to weather the storm, or don’t think you’re in danger of the natural disaster at hand, you could end up being the people you see air rescued on TV… or worse. Many fatalities occur because residents ignore advice and wait too long to evacuate. You should never place you and your family at risk for the sake of material items.
Your family emergency plan should contain instructions on what to do if you’re ordered to evacuate, streamlining the steps required to get out the door as soon as possible. When establishing evacuation protocols, you should consider which natural disaster threat your family is most likely to face and how quickly you’ll need to respond. For example, if you’re watching a hurricane expected to hit shore in a couple days, you’ll have more time to pack up your belonging before standing in the way of destruction; however, in the event that a spontaneous wildfire jumps a freeway and threatens your home, you might only receive a two-minute warning before it’s too late, in which case a well-prepared evacuation plan will become incredibly useful.
You should also take into consideration the ages of your family members and your family’s special and medical needs, as well as the following factors:
The last thing you should be doing is searching for GPS instructions during an evacuation; know which roads take you to safety ahead of time. Your route should avoid areas that might be made dangerous by the hazards at hand. For example, if you live in an area that’s at risk of flooding, don’t plan on taking any roads that travel near floodplains, rivers, or other bodies of water.
Of course, you can’t always predict where emergency situations will occur, or what evacuation routes will be inhibited. Plan multiple evacuation routes so that if one is cut off, you’ll have a second or third option, and if you’re in a situation where you know you might need to evacuate, stay up-to-date on road closures.
Remember, your evacuation route should ultimately take you to a safe shelter that’s removed from the disaster area.
What if you don’t have access to a vehicle? Or what if a road-damaging event occurs that renders driving impossible?
Even if you have a vehicle, you should plan an evacuation route that includes a backup means of transportation.
Plan an evacuation route that utilizes an alternative mode of transit:
- Identify alternative modes of transit and their proximity to your home
- Know where there's a local bus station or train station within walking distance
- Consult your local government website to find evacuation services for citizens without vehicles
- Make arrangements with family or friends that have access to a vehicle
If you suspect that evacuation is imminent, be sure to unplug all appliances and electrical equipment, lock your windows and doors, and consider shutting off your gas. If there’s a risk of flooding, move furniture and appliances to a higher floor. Your family emergency plan might designate these tasks to different family members so they’ll get finished faster.
If you’ve received a notice to evacuate immediately, don’t waste any time rearranging your home! Leave as soon as possible. Protecting your family is far more important than protecting personal items.
Children may be naturally frightened during an evacuation, but it’s important to remember that children emulate the behavior of their parents. If adults appear overly frightened and in a state of panic, then children are more likely to be frightened and panicked, too. If adults stay calm and collected, it’s more likely the children will also be calm.
If you have a child, try to explain the reality of the situation with an honest but hopeful point of view. If the child has a preferred stuffed animal, toy, or blanket, be sure to bring it during the evacuation so that the child may have it for comfort. Talking about your family emergency plan and possible evacuation protocols in advance will help keep everyone calm should you ever need to put the plan into action.
Disaster Preparedness Guide for Elders and Disabled Persons
In an evacuation, you might be without standard food, shelter, and supplies. For elderly and disabled persons, make sure you bring the necessary materials such as:
- Wheelchairs and walkers
- Shower chair/tub-transfer equipment
- Ample supply of backup power for electrical devices
- Medicine/medical supplies
Some family members might need handicap-accessible transportation, so be sure to make proper transportation arrangements for them, if necessary.
If your elderly or disabled loved ones live elsewhere and you need to reach them in an emergency, be aware that the emergency block access to their home or your ability to contact them. In the event those persons cannot be reached, make sure that they’re aware of evacuation routes and transportation services, and that they have an emergency kit in their home.
Don’t forget about your furry friends! When you evacuate, make sure you bring:
- Food and water for your pet
- Shelter for your pet such as a cage or kennel. If your pet typically sleeps in a larger piece of pet furniture, bring comfortable blankets or towels for them to sleep on, instead.
Keep in mind that many emergency shelters don’t allow pets, so you should make a list of nearby shelters that allow you to bring domestic animals.
What if an emergency breaks out and your family members are separated in different parts of town? In case of separation, you should plan on a pre-arranged meeting place for your family to regroup. This meeting place should be easy to find, easy to remember, and far removed from the disaster area. Cell phone towers will most likely be down during a natural disaster, so having this spot pre-arranged might be the only way you can ensure your clan regroups.
Practice evacuation scenarios that require you to collect materials, use evacuation routes, and gather at pre-determined shelters or meeting places. If a real emergency happens, your family will be well-trained on what to do and where to go!
2. Emergency Contact Plan
Another important part of your family emergency plan is your emergency contact plan . During a natural disaster, it might be difficult to contact family members in your immediate area because of busy phone lines or dropped cell towers, so you’ll want to establish a reliable form of communications (pro tip: consider investing in some hand-held radios).
If local phone lines are busy, you could try calling people who live further away. Long distance emergency contacts can be a helpful way to relay information to immediate family members that you can’t reach due to busy, local phone lines.
Choose two to three people who live further away and make sure that everyone in your family has those phone numbers written down or saved in their phone in case you can’t contact each other.
If you evacuate your home, you’ll need to find new shelter in a safe area. During emergencies that cover a widespread area—like hurricanes and wildfires—you should seek shelter many miles away from the disaster area, in a different city or different county.
Make lists of both local shelters and lodging further away that you could evacuate to. If you have friends or extended relatives who live not too far, you might want to ask them if you could possibly stay with them if you had to evacuate.
An emergency kit is one of the most important items to have ready in an emergency. An emergency kit includes a huge span of different survival gear , or necessary resources for any situation where you’ve lost your shelter, access to food, water, equipment, and/or electricity. The best emergency kits have all these supplies organized within an easily-transportable device—typically a pre-packed survival backpack —that’s ready to bounce with you out the door the moment it’s called upon.
Ready-to-go survival backpacks will spare you valuable time, and you can stock them in your home (and in each of your family member’s vehicles, if you want to be extra-safe).
Should an emergency situation occur, you’ll want to have all vital documents stored in a single, waterproof container. These papers include:
- Social Security card
- Birth certificate
- Any other official documents that are difficult to replace
It might be worth your while to scan all of these documents and store your digital records on a cloud-based server so you know that you can access them in case that they’re damaged during a disaster.
In an emergency situation, it’s important to be aware of any breaking developments that could affect you and your family. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a public warning system that may be used by local governments to issue important emergency information to radios and cell phones. These alerts are not affected by network congestion and are incredibly useful for staying up-to-date with the situation at hand.
Some information they can provide includes:
- Impending hazards
- Location of the nearest emergency shelter
- Evacuation routes that are unsafe
- Evacuation routes that are safe
Another great resource is NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR). This is a network of radio stations that broadcast continuous information and updates from the National Weather Service.
It’s important to educate all members of your family about these information sources, including how to access them. Spend time with your family learning how to tune in to various alert broadcasts in case you’re not there when the need for information becomes critical.
Remember to write out your family emergency plan in full. You should print out copies to give to each of your family members and you should have one in an easy-to-find location at home; keeping it somewhere in plain sight might help each of your family members memorize each step.
You’ll never be able to predict all of the situations that could arise in an emergency, but a strong family emergency plan will reduce the dangers that come from panic, indecisiveness, and uncertainty.
Mommy Knows What's Best
January 18, 2019 · 8 Comments
How to Make A Family Emergency Plan, with Free Printable Checklists
Family · How Tos and DIY
Thanks for Sharing!
Do you have an emergency disaster plan in place for your family? Learn how to make a family emergency plan and get a free family emergency plan checklist printable.
Emergency Plan for a Family
Fires. Tornadoes. Hurricanes. Floods. Blizzards. Viruses. Every day we hear about a new disaster that threatens our way of life.
Is your family prepared in the event of a natural disaster or any kind of emergency event?
Someday, your family may encounter a natural disaster or similar emergency event that will require you to be prepared and jump into action to keep your family safe. If you have a family emergency plan in place, keeping your family safe and alive will be much, much easier.
What is a Family Emergency Plan?
A family emergency plan is a document that details steps to take in the event of an emergency. It includes important telephone numbers, family meeting places, emergency supplies checklist, and more.
Here are three essential questions that you should ask yourself to create an emergency preparedness plan for you and your family.
This post contains affiliate links , from which I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you.
1. Where Will You Go in a Disaster?
The first question you need to consider is where you will go when there is an emergency.
- Will you shelter in place at home?
- Will you leave town and evacuate?
- If you are leaving the area, where will you go and where will you stay?
You don’t want to make these decisions when you are in the middle of a disaster, so it is vital to think of your answers now . Disasters cause great distress, and it can be difficult to make smart decisions quickly in those situations.
Now is the time to think through any possible scenarios that could occur in your area and get the necessary information about safe locations that you need ahead of time.
For example, if you are leaving the area, you could determine where you want to go, figure out what routes would be the safest and easiest to get you there, and then find out what hotels are in the area or if there are any friends or family that live in the area.
You may also want to consider where your family members are throughout the day and how they could meet you at the safe place you choose.
Tip: You may not be able to rely on your smartphone or other GPS systems to work during a disaster. Have an updated printed road atlas (or a few) with possible routes and safe places highlighted, and keep it with your disaster kit along with a compass.
2. How Will You Stay In Touch with Your Family?
Can you imagine what it would feel like to not be able to contact your family or friends during an emergency? Or, have you considered how you’ll get the latest news or emergency alerts?
It’s super important to think about how you’ll be able to communicate during a disaster.
You should consider how you’ll get information while on the move AND while at an emergency shelter.
For starters, make sure everyone has a mobile device that can receive calls and text or send messages via social media. The mobile device can be a smartphone, a basic flip phone, a smart watch, a tablet, or even a laptop.
Too young for such a device? Figure out a way for your young children to get in contact with you. For example, if they are at preschool, day care, or school, your contact would be with the adults who are with your children.
Young children should also either know phone numbers by memory or have a physical list of numbers to call in case they only have access to a landline.
TIP! Make sure that your child’s emergency contact information is always up to date at daycare, preschool, or school. Any time there is a number change, contact those in charge to let them know.
Don’t Forget Chargers!
Don’t forget that you’ll need these devices to be charged. Make sure to have charging cables and plugs with you, along with car chargers. A portable charger , one that is charged via USB or via solar power, will come in very handy as well.
You’ll want the batteries to last as long as possible, so be conservative with your device usage. There won’t be much need for most of the apps on your phone, nor will it be necessary to constantly be on social media or taking photos/videos. Remind your kids about this ahead of a disaster and remind them regularly.
TIP: Everyone should become familiar with how to change their battery settings on their mobile devices to conserve power. Look in the settings of your device for instructions of how to conserve your battery best.
What happens if your mobile device runs out of power or the towers are down? It’s vital to have a backup plan for when you can’t get a good connection or your mobile device runs out of battery power. You can choose a meeting point or a person that everyone contacts when you can’t get a hold of each other. Make sure that everyone knows about this plan and how to get to the meeting point or get in touch with the contact person.
Still want to know what’s going on? You can get a weather radio that has a hand crank and is solar powered, with which you can get emergency alerts and the latest news.
3. What Emergency Supplies Do You Need?
Don’t wait to collect and store emergency supplies. The more prepared your family is, the safer and more comfortable your family will be when a disaster occurs.
Depending on what the disaster is, where you live, who is in your family, and the seasonal weather will determine what supplies will be best for your family.
The basics you’ll need for survival include food, water, shelter, and medication. If you have pets, you’ll want those basic supplies for them too.
Printable Emergency Survival Kit Checklist
Get this full list of emergency supplies for your family as a printable and stock up on the supplies you don’t already have.
Once you have the basics, you can start thinking about things that will make you comfortable like light, entertainment, extra bedding, small fans, and similar things. With a headlamp or lantern and a good book, you can pass the time during the emergency. Travel board games or puzzles are perfect for distracting young kids from being too nervous. Extra bedding might help young children sleep better, and small battery-operated fans can help to circulate air.
If you have a small camping stove, a small campfire kettle , and some mugs, you can make some hot chocolate or tea for the family to enjoy as a treat (and to keep them warm!).
- Some emergency agencies recommend having a list of everyone’s Social Security numbers on hand.
- It might be a good idea to have copies of birth certificates, insurance information, and any other important documents you think are necessary.
Free Emergency Plan Printable
Use this guide to create an emergency preparedness plan with your family. Use Part 1 as a rough draft and Part 2 as your actual plan.
( Note : If you already subscribe to my newsletter, this printable is included in my Resource Library.)
Are You Prepared for an Emergency?
If you and your family are prepared, you’ll greatly increase your chances of making it through a disaster.
Are you prepared? What precautions have you taken to make a family emergency preparedness plan? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Emergency Survival Kit List for Your Family, with Printable Checklist
What to Have in Your Winter Emergency Survival Kit for Home
Get my free newsletter.
Parenting Tips | Mom Life | Recipes | How Tos | Freebies
September 16, 2019 at 7:12 am
Good tips! I think most of us walk through day to day life thinking something will never happen to us but then when it does we are totally unprepared.
September 16, 2019 at 8:43 am
That’s so true! It’s hard to imagine anything bad happening to our families, but it’s so much better to be prepared no matter what.
September 16, 2019 at 8:30 am
I remember the good ole days when we did stuff like this in school. Admittedly, I haven’t done enough emergency planning with my own kids. I really need to.
September 16, 2019 at 8:45 am
I remember those days too. Other than fire drills and lockdowns, I don’t know if kids are even taught any other kind of emergency planning in schools now. It would be an awesome thing for a PTO/PTA to do with families though.
September 16, 2019 at 9:18 am
What a great list of ideas. Being in a disaster isn’t something any of us like to think about, but as parents it’s definitely necessary to be prepared.
Jazzy's Mama says
September 16, 2019 at 9:59 am
This is a great guide. We never know when an emergency might happen so it is best to be prepared.
September 16, 2019 at 9:26 pm
This came at a great time. I have been thinking about creating a plan for our family in case of an emergency. Thank you for this! This article has some great tips
Christiana Kayode says
September 17, 2019 at 5:34 pm
A great reminder that I need to get my act together and get planning myself. Very easy to go through life without thinking of these things. Thank you
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Get Access to the Resource Library!
Gain access to my FREE Resource Library that has all kinds of checklists and printables.
This blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.
You knows what's best for your family, but it's totally okay to ask for help or look for inspiration.
Free Consultation 717-848-3838
Home / Blog / Steps to Creating a Family Emergency Plan
Steps to Creating a Family Emergency Plan
It’s human nature not to want to discuss things which frighten us or make us uncomfortable. However, there is a big difference between getting hung up on morbid thoughts and simply having a plan of action for realistic potential crises.
Extreme weather can present itself almost anywhere you go. Hurricanes are powerful and incredibly destructive. Wildfires have engulfed neighborhoods once thought to be safe from harm. Tornadoes rip through and destroy entire communities. You never want to think about these things happening, but they are a possibility.
Do the responsible thing for your family. Create an emergency plan checklist and fill out this family emergency plan template so that you and any first responders can have immediate access to potentially vital, life-saving information. It won’t take long, and it will give you and your family peace of mind.
Click here to download the Family Emergency Plan Worksheet!
Identify Potential Disasters
To begin your emergency preparedness plan, you will need to think about potential dangers in your area. Are you in a flood zone, the path of hurricane season or an area that has frequent wildfires? You never know what will happen, but preparing for the more likely dangers will keep you one step ahead.
Prepare an Emergency Kit
Create a family emergency kit. It should be a portable plastic case, preferably with a handle. There should be first aid items inside of it. Include things like bandages, antibiotic ointment, scissors, tweezers and hand sanitizer.
You will need food, too. Keep a small supply of canned goods. It’s best to make sure they are high-density foods that will keep you feeling full for longer after you eat them. Include bottled water, flashlights and an extra store of any needed medication. It’s also a good idea to include copies of your utility bills for identification purposes. Don’t forget your pets — add some canned dog or cat food if you have a furry friend.
Pack essentials only. You need to be able to leave with your kit in a hurry. Depending on the emergency, you may have time to add more when the moment presents itself. Another idea is to pack a second tier kit with extra items. Write down where your emergency kits are located. You don’t want to have to think about it in a panicked situation.
Identify Safe Places and Escape Routes
Have a family meeting, and discuss what you would do in any given emergency. Identify safe spots in your home for tornadoes or hurricanes — usually in a basement, or a bathroom for houses without a cellar area.
Plan your escape route. Find the most efficient way to get everyone out of the house. Allow for alternate routes in case your escape is blocked by fire or fallen debris. Discuss and practice these routes.
Pick a safe meeting place outside of the home in case you get separated from each other. Make sure it’s close by and easy for everyone to remember.
Write It Down
Fill out this family emergency plan template and know where it is at all times. The refrigerator can be a great spot for posting information. An office or bedroom bulletin board will work too, as long as it is always accessible.
Your plan should have all pertinent medical information available in the event that you have to be rescued or brought to a hospital. Emergency contact information should include both local and out-of-state contacts in case a regional disaster occurs.
Update your information as it changes and check it every six months or so. You don’t want to leave inaccurate or misleading information for emergency responders. Keep blank copies of your family emergency plan checklist in case you need to remake the whole thing. Discuss your pan regularly with children, especially if inclement weather is looming.
In addition to posting your emergency preparedness plan on the refrigerator, give copies to family members. You can even put them in glove compartments and school backpacks — just be sure to keep the private information protected in a plastic baggie or something similar.
A little preparation can go a long way. You need not be frightened — being prepared should make you feel more confident in the event of any disaster.
Request a Free Consultation
The personal injury attorneys at KBG Injury Law are all experienced litigators. Almost all of them represented insurance companies prior to becoming advocates for injured people, which provides them with a unique perspective and insight into how these companies operate. They also offer extensive courtroom experience if going to trial is the best legal alternative for the client. [ Read More ]
- +1 (800) 826-0777
- VIRTUAL TOUR
- Mass Notification
- Threat Intelligence
- Employee Safety Monitoring
- Travel Risk Management
- Emergency Preparedness
- Remote Workforce
- Location and Asset Protection
- Business Continuity
- Why AlertMedia
- Who We Serve
- Customer Spotlights
- Resource Library
- Downloads & Guides
Create a Plan for an Earthquake Emergency & Evacuation
The devastating earthquake in Ishikawa Prefecture, Japan, serves as a stark reminder of how important an earthquake emergency plan can be. By understanding how companies weathered this disaster, the examples can inform your own earthquake response planning.
- Earthquake Risk Assessment
- Earthquake Communication Plan
- Evacuation & Shelter-in-Place Plans
- Safety Training for Earthquakes
On the first day of 2024, a major earthquake, measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale, struck Ishikawa Prefecture in Japan, leaving in its wake more than 1,200 aftershocks. The Noto earthquake resulted in tragic loss of life, with hundreds of casualties and extensive damage, and caused profound disruption to infrastructure and daily life. However, many of the factories and vital businesses in the region were able to resume operations quickly, sometimes within a week of the quake, even as many crucial suppliers and routes were disrupted. These companies leveraged emergency plans for earthquakes to prepare for the disaster before it hit.
Whether earthquakes are a common threat or a rare risk for your business, having a plan can make a huge difference in preventing prolonged outages. We can review what the companies in Japan did to understand how earthquake preparedness mitigates the damage these disasters can cause.
Download Our Emergency Response Plan Template
Start emergency plans for earthquakes with a risk assessment.
In the wake of the Noto earthquake, Medaka Kotsu, a transportation company providing charter and school buses, recognized the urgency to resume transportation promptly. Bus services are a critical part of a city’s infrastructure, making it essential to restore operations swiftly after a disaster. The company conducted a risk assessment as part of its business continuity planning, including communication plans, employee safety checks, and overall business management. This assessment enabled Medaka Kotsu to identify potential issues, ensuring not only the resumption of bus services but also securing the required cash flow for ongoing operations if needed.
An earthquake risk assessment involves stakeholders collaborating to identify vulnerabilities, assess potential impacts, and formulate effective strategies for mitigating earthquake risks. With the risks laid out, the enterprise can then categorize its response to each one.
Past events can also be a good indicator of how to respond to future ones. Of the 13 factories that operated within the Hokuriku region during the Noto earthquake, 10 had returned to operations within a month. This rapid turnaround is likely due to the region being an earthquake-prone one. The businesses that operate there know the importance of having an emergency plan for earthquakes and have clean-up measures well-rehearsed.
Establish a Strong Communication Plan
Effective communication is crucial for guiding employees through sudden and destructive events like earthquakes. Follow these five steps to create streamlined information sharing.
- Tailor communication for your audience: Customize messages for different stakeholders, addressing the specific needs of security teams, remote employees, executives, and the entire workforce. Post-earthquake, provide targeted emergency information to relevant groups, such as the cybersecurity team.
- Establish an emergency communication team: Assign individuals or a dedicated team to manage your communication strategy, information dissemination, and after-action reporting. Designate roles such as group admins, emergency responders, information officers, and spokespersons for a coordinated response.
- Integrate communication with crisis planning: Include communication plans in broader emergency response plans . Collaborate with stakeholders, reviewing and updating plans through emergency drills . Ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities.
- Prepare message scripts: Develop clear and concise messaging templates for various incidents, considering communication mediums like text, email, and voice. Tailor notification templates for specific audiences, keeping them short and easy to understand.
- Invest in emergency communication technology: Incorporate emergency mass notification software for efficient information distribution. Ensure two-way communication to account for individuals during and after emergencies. Finally, implement a threat monitoring system using real-time data to proactively warn employees about potential threats.
Store Emergency Supply Kits
Emergency supplies become critical if workers must either shelter in place or evacuate. Having the right resources on hand ensures their safety and well-being during unforeseen circumstances. Here’s a list of essential items to help workers navigate and cope with challenges arising from unexpected events.
Set Earthquake Evacuation Plans and Shelter-in-Place Protocols
One big mistake a lot of businesses make when setting up an emergency plan for earthquakes is to take an evacuation-first approach. In some cases, evacuations are not the best option as they could put otherwise safe individuals in the path of hazards.
After the immediate danger, there may be falling heavy objects, downed power lines, debris in evacuation routes, and other dangers. Meanwhile, the environmental health inside the building may be capable of keeping workers safe for hours or days as they await emergency services. Enterprises need procedures in place for when to evacuate, versus when to shelter in place, so workers can shift their response as needed.
Conduct Earthquake Safety Training
Of the 13 factories operating within the Hokuriku region during the Noto earthquake, 10 had resumed operations within a month. One was in operation within a week. Takayama Reed Co., a major producer of reeds crucial to the textile industry, was able to get operations up and running thanks to strong disaster planning. Immediately after the natural disaster, company President Toru Takayama swiftly confirmed the safety of their 85 employees and implemented a recovery task force, closely following the company’s earthquake plan. Ensuring that each individual within that task force knew what to do and how to execute their duties was critical for Takayama Reed Co.’s rapid recovery.
The same level of emergency preparedness was evident at Medaka Kotsu, which resumed operations just two days after the major earthquake. President Ryuichi Hoshiba credited the simulations they went through while developing their business continuity plan . He highlighted these simulations as a key component in helping them address gaps, not just in training but also in the plan itself. Executing realistic earthquake drills or tabletop exercises is critical to helping the team test their response and iterate. It also plays a vital role in instilling proper drop, cover, and hold-on procedures in employees.
In earthquake safety protocols, “drop, cover, and hold on” is a widely recommended set of actions to protect oneself during an earthquake. Employees are trained to drop to the ground, take cover under a sturdy table, piece of furniture, or against an interior wall, and hold on until the shaking stops. This practice helps reduce the risk of injury from falling objects and potential hazards during seismic events. Implementing and practicing such procedures is essential for the overall safety and preparedness of employees in the face of earthquakes.
In short, earthquake tabletop exercises help you test your plan for gaps, while earthquake drill procedures test your workforce’s individual response. Conducting both types of training helps to embed strong responses in times of crisis.
Document and Iterate
The final stage of creating a plan for an earthquake emergency is to document and improve. In the example from the transportation company, Medaka Kotsu, they discovered a serious financial risk that could have hindered their recovery, but for their BCP.
Leadership realized that the company might need outside funding to continue supporting operations in the months following recovery when revenue was down. Reviewing this made them aware that it was likely they could run out of funding. The company worked out methods for obtaining loans, allowing it to support long-term recovery without disrupting its immediate response.
It was the documentation process itself that helped them discover the gap and improve the plan. Companies can formalize this documentation process with an after-action report (AAR). In the event of an earthquake, the plan is executed. The company then engages in an AAR, a structured process of reviewing what happened during and after the event. This includes assessing the effectiveness of the implemented plan, identifying any gaps or areas for improvement, and documenting lessons learned.
Learn a step-by-step framework for developing an after action report to ensure your organization is prepared for any emergency scenario.
Build a Strong Foundation
A strong plan for an earthquake emergency is one based on a proven foundation. The companies that were able to recover from the Noto earthquake and its aftershocks were the ones that followed proven BCP strategies and had measures in place to ensure employee safety. Templates can be great tools for making sure all the gaps are filled. Download our emergency response plan template to create strategies that adapt to any emergency.
More Articles You May Be Interested In
Emergency Response Plan Template
Please complete the form below to receive this resource.
Check Your Inbox!
The document you requested has been sent to your provided email address.
Cookies are required to play this video.
Click the blue shield icon on the bottom left of your screen to edit your cookie preferences.
Trump's civil fraud verdict appeal may hinge on 'no victims' defense
- Private Escapes Platinum One Central Park West, Llc Follow
- Trump Organization Inc Follow
Reporting by Jack Queen; editing by Will Dunham, Noeleen Walder and Amy Stevens
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles. , opens new tab
Legal correspondent specializing in politically charged cases.
Read Next / Editor's Picks
Mike Scarcella, David Thomas
Diana Novak Jones
Is AT&T down? Reports of nationwide outages may also be impacting Verizon and T-Mobile
Couldn’t make a phone call this morning?
Customers with cellular service through AT&T may be impacted by massive nationwide outages, which could also be impacting Verizon and T-Mobile users, according to Downdetector, a real-time outage monitoring website.
T-Mobile claimed there were no outages this morning, according to a statement.
Customers are seeing SOS only where service bars usually appear on their devices. Here's what that means.
AT&T wireless service restored Thursday afternoon
AT&T said they have "restored wireless service to all our affected customers," according to a 2:10 p.m. CT network update on their website . "We sincerely apologize to them. Keeping our customers connected remains our top priority, and we are taking steps to ensure our customers do not experience this again in the future."
What time did the AT&T outage happen?
According to Downdetector , more than 30,000 outages were reported at 3:29 a.m. ET this morning. By 6:59 a.m. ET, there were up to 71,000 outages.
Why is my phone on SOS only?
When a user's cell phone isn’t connected to a cellular network, they will typically alert the user by giving an indication in the phone's status bar. Those notifications usually say “No Service” or “Searching,” but your phone may also say “SOS” or “SOS only.” When your phone goes into SOS mode, it can still make emergency calls.
AT&T outage map
AT&T allows users to sign up for text alert updates about outages, or you can check on outages with your mobile phone or internet here .
How to check for Verizon outages
Verizon requires customers to sign into their accounts to check outages , but you can also find troubleshooting info and check on the status of repair requests.
T-Mobile says they had no outages
Through a statement via email, T-Mobile said, "We did not experience an outage. Our network is operating normally. Down Detector is likely reflecting challenges our customers were having attempting to connect to users on other networks."
"IF YOU HAVE AN EMERGENCY DIAL 911."
MCAC | Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center
Judge rules killer of london, ont., muslim family committed terrorism, calling it a ‘textbook example’.
The actions of a man who was convicted of murder and attempted murder after deliberately driving his truck into five members of the Afzaal family in London, Ont., on June 6, 2021, amounted to terrorism under Canadian law, a judge ruled Thursday
“I have chosen not to name the offender nor recite the hateful hateful statements that he shared with police or in his manifesto. This is because his actions constitute terrorist activity,” Superior Court Justice Renee Pomerance told a packed courtroom.
“One might go so far as to characterize this as a textbook example of terrorist motive and intent…By not referring to the offender by name, and not restating his views, I am trying to reduce the potential use of these proceedings as a platform for the ideology that spawned the violent acts of June 6, 2021.”
Read more: CBC News