Your Family Disaster Plan

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. Families can - and do - cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team.

Create a Disaster Plan

  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
  • Pick two places to meet. One right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. The other, 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, it's 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 number.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.

Disaster Supply Kit

Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these items in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers. Prepare a 5-day disaster supply kit that contains the following materials:
  • One gallon of water per person per day (5 day minimum)
  • Non-perishable food for each person – foods that require no refrigeration, cooking or preparation.
  • Rotate the food supply every six months
  • Keep a 14-day supply of vital medications on hand at all times
  • A roll of quarters (for pay phones in the event that cell service is down or home phones have no power). Land line phone service will always be available.
  • First aid kit, including bandages, scissors, latex gloves, sterile pads, sterile roll bandages, tweezers, petroleum jelly, cleansing agents, antiseptic ointment or spray, ACE bandages and first aid booklet.
  • Toilet paper, feminine supplies, plastic garbage bags and ties, infant supplies, soap, and personal hygiene items
  • Unscented household bleach to purify water
  • Tools and supplies, including paper plates, plastic utensils, small amount of cash, fire extinguisher, pliers, compass, aluminum foil, flares, wrench to shut off utilities, flashlight, extra batteries, non-electric can opener, matches, pencil and paper, whistle, shelter tarps, dust mask and work gloves
  • Battery operated radio and extra batteries. A NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert is optional, but very important
  • Include bedding and at least one complete change of clothes and footwear for all household members
  • Keep important family documents in a waterproof container in your home and keep copies in your disaster kit: Wills, insurance policies, stock certificates, bonds, bank account numbers, passports, social security cards, immunization records, credit card numbers, and birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Extra food, drinking water, supplies and medicines for your pets
  • Maintain and know how to use a fire extinguisher

Know How & Where To Turn Off Utilities

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 on.

Inspect Your Home For Potential Hazards

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 potential hazards.