This blog will help you get prepared and create a family disaster plan in case of an emergency. The checklist below is intended to serve as general guidelines for your preparations.*
The Most Important Rule in an Emergency:
If you are told to evacuate – do it!
Your personal safety and the safety of your family
is your most important concern.
Create a Family Disaster Plan:
Prepare, Stay Informed and Work Together
- Talk to your family and create a plan to work together and share responsibilities as a team.
- Identify an out-of-state friend or relative as a family contact so that all family members have a single point of contact. Identify at least two methods of contact, including home telephone number, cell phone, and email.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your telephones, on the refrigerator, in your wallet or purse, in the car, and in children’s book bags or backpacks. Make sure children know how and when to call 9-1-1. Click http://www.redcross.org/prepare/ECCard.pdf for a sample card (shown above).
- Review your property insurance coverage. Consider purchasing flood insurance.
- Keep an updated photo and/or video inventory of your personal belongings, furniture, and children. Store a duplicate copy away from your home.
- Purchase a NOAA weather radio and pay attention to the latest information from the National Weather Service.
- Create a safe place in the home where the family will ride out the disaster, such as an interior room, closets, or basement.
- Identify the evacuation or escape routes from your home and destination or shelter locations. Identify two escape routes for each room in your home. Make sure even the youngest children know where to meet the family if they must leave the home.
- Determine a place to meet, including a child’s school, a neighbor’s home, or public place should evacuation be ordered while you are away from home.
- Don’t forget the pets: most shelters will not take pets, so plan for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.
- Make provision for family members with special needs including infants and those with disabilities and health challenges.
- Make sure the street number of your house is clearly visible from the road so emergency vehicles can easily locate you.
Get Ready with Your Family Emergency Kit
- Review and refresh your emergency supplies every six months.
- Each disaster kit should be customized to meet a family’s needs, including medications and needs for children or the elderly.
- Plan for two scenarios: remaining in your home after a disaster or evacuating to a safer location.
- Following a disaster, water may not be safe for drinking or personal use. Follow guidelines of your local health department, water authority, or local government.
- An emergency water supply should is a top priority. Have enough water on hand for yourself and your family. Bottled water is recommended.
- Store at least one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days (for drinking, sanitary purposes, and possibly cooking) plus an additional four gallons per person for personal use. Have on hand three-day supply of water if you are evacuating; a 2-week supply if you are remaining at home.
- When storing water, use thoroughly washed plastic, fiberglass, or enamel-lined containers. Don’t use containers that can break, such as glass bottles. Never use a container that has held toxic substances. Plastic containers such as soda bottles are best.
- Seal your water containers tightly, label them, and store them in a cool, dark place. It is important to change stored water every six months to maintain a fresh supply.
- Store your emergency supplies kit in a portable container near the exit door of your home.
- Place important family documents such as insurance policies, deed or lease to home, identification, credit cards, and bank account records in a fire-proof and waterproof portable container.
- Locate spare car keys; keep your vehicle's fuel tank full.
- Have a battery-powered or hand-crank radio or television with extra batteries. Batteries should be replaced every six months. A NOAA Weather Radio can be your best source for information on the weather conditions as well as alert you if you are in danger and advise you what actions you need to take.
- Prepare cash or traveler’s checks in advance.
- Check all flashlights andhave extra batteries on hand – check expiration dates before the emergency.
- Have candles in a known area and use only in safe locations. Keep matches in a waterproof container.
- Haveat least a three-day supply of non-perishable food. Make sure you have a non-electric can opener to open canned food.
- Prepare mess kits, paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils includingkitchen accessories and cooking utensils for the food supply.
- Maintain a first aid kit and manual, including band-aids and other items for minor scrapes and wounds as well as tweezers, scissors, and instant cold packs.
- Have at least a seven-day supply of prescription drugs and over-the-counter medications. Keep copies of any prescriptions in the emergency supplies kit. Be sure to have additional supplies on hand for family members with special medical needs.
- Keep a supply of formula, diapers, and bottles for children andinfants.
- Keep special needs items such as sunscreen, prescription medicines, eye glasses, contact lens solution, medicine dropper, and hearing aid batteries in zippered plastic bags.
- Place sanitation and personal hygiene items in a dry locationincludinghand sanitizer, moist towelettes, toilet paper, feminine supplies, and paper towels.
- It may be helpful to have a whistle and signal flares to signal for help.
- Charge your cell phone and keep the charger in a safe place. Charge additional battery packs ahead to the potential disaster.
- Have plastic sheeting, tarps, and duct tape available to shelter-in-place.
- Have an assortment of garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation and clean-up after the disaster.
- Plan for pet care including food, supplies, and transportation.
- Have toys, books, and games as well as paper and pencils to occupy the children.
- Have one (1) complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including a jacket and seasonal clothing, short and long pants, long-sleeve and short-sleeve cotton shirts, and sturdy shoes.
- Arrange for a pillow and sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person.
- Know where the fire extinguisher is in your home.
- Will you need a tent or rain gear?
- Keep wrenches or pliers handy in the event the utilities need to be turned off.
- If the disaster occurs in winter weather, how will you heat your home or keep warm? Have extra firewood on hand if necessary.
- Will you use a portable generator? Identify the items that will receive power in advance of the storm and be sure that the generator can supply appropriate power. Have several gallons of gas on hand in a safe location to run the generator, and please use a carbon monoxide detector in your home.
- Install storm shutters, panels, screens, or fabric for your home as needed.
- A basic tool box with hammer and nails
- Small power tools including chain saws to remove broken tree limbs
- Hat and work gloves
- Safety shoes or work boots
- Disinfectant, soap and liquid detergent
- Household chlorine bleach (use as a disinfectant: nine parts water to one part bleach)
- Buckets and mops
- Bucket with tight lids
- wet/dry vac
- Sponges and paper towels
- Plastic sheeting
- Staple guns with extra staples
- Heavy-duty garbage bags with strong ties
- Rakes and shovels
- Dust mask or respirators to help filter the air
- Home Depot Hurricane Guide 2011 (pdf)
*This article was adapted from the Hurricane Preparation workshop, which was produced in partnership with The Home Depot and the American Red Cross to help Americans be prepared in the event of a disaster.