Create a Household Emergency Plan

Households can – and do – cope with emergencies by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Create a family disaster plan that includes emergency communication, supply kit, and home evacuation. Being prepared is your best protection and your responsibility to your family. Discuss as a group what you need to do to prepare for an emergency. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.

To help you prepare at home, it's helpful to imagine that you have no telephone service, no electricity, no gas, no water, or sanitation service. Imagine that all the businesses are closed and all services are shut down. What will you do and what will you need at home until help arrives?



Your household may not be all together when a disaster strikes. Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to be your emergency contact. Everyone should contact this person to check in after a disaster. Be sure everyone carries an emergency contact card. Discuss what to do if you need to evacuate your home, and consider the special needs of seniors and disabled family members. Don't forget to include pets in your plan.


Meeting Places

Pick specific places to meet for different situations. Meet right outside your home if there is a sudden emergency, such as a fire. Parks or outdoor areas are good places to meet if you cannot return home after an earthquake. Choose an out-of-town meeting place in case of evacuation.


Plan Checklist
  • Print and fill out the handy Family Emergency Plan Form from
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by your telephones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
  • Make copies of vital documents and store them with your out-of-state emergency contact.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local number for emergency help.
  • Look for possible hazards in your home, particularly things that might fall from high places.
  • Make sure you have adequate, up-to-date insurance coverage.
  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Buy emergency supplies and assemble a supply kit.
  • Buy ABC-rated fire extinguishers and show able family members where they are and how to use them.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
  • Teach able family members when and how to turn off the water, gas, and electricity.
  • For extra protection for your family, take a Get Ready class, CERT training and Red Cross first aid/CPR classes.


Practice Your Plan
  • Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
  • Review evacuation plans with seniors and family members with special needs often.
  • Replace stored water and food every six months to a year.
  • Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.


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