Disaster Prevention Safety

  • Emergency Planning

Before an emergency occurs, consider what steps will be important to safeguard your family and loved ones. Meet with your family to discuss the plan and practice it. Keep the plan simple so all family members can remember the important points.

  1. Anticipate Difficulties and Inconveniences - Create plans to anticipate situations in order to be able to make informed decisions during a crisis. Physical and emotional stresses may cloud decision-making skills.
  2. Determine Your Evacuation Plan - Know the evacuation routes leading away from your community. Plan an alternative place where family members agree to meet in the event you cannot meet at home, and determine alternative modes of travel if transportation is disrupted. Remember; follow the advice of authorities about evacuation - they do not ask people to leave unless they believe lives are in danger.
  3. Memorize Emergency Contacts - Be sure each family member knows whom to contact - perhaps a friend or relative out-of-state - in the event local communications are impaired. Discuss any of your family's medical needs with someone out-of-town and in the immediate neighborhood. Make a list of insurance, banking, medical and other essential telephone numbers and account information and give it to a trusted family member. Consider including a spare charge card or ATM card with the list, so that you can access money in an emergency or they can access it for you.
  4. Develop a Plan at Work - Talk with co-workers to develop an internal emergency plan. Remember to include in your plan to assign specific responsibilities in the event of an emergency.
  5. Plan how to Communicate in an Emergency - Keep everyone's work, home, school, and cellular numbers updated and share them with everyone in the family. Remember that often in an emergency, cellular phones may not work because the systems are over-loaded. Because communications are difficult in an emergency, it makes sense to plan a family/friend "tree", so you only need to make one or two calls, then others make designated calls on your behalf from there.
  6. Keep a Battery-Operated Radio - In the event of an emergency, you will want a battery-operated radio in order to listen to what local law enforcement and emergency management authorities are telling the community.
  7. Strengthen Personal Fitness - Be prepared for the physical requirements of dealing with circumstances outside your daily routine. Being healthy and alert can mean life or death.
  8. Prepare Family Members, Especially Children - Reassure children that adults will take care of them in the event of a disaster. Knowing there is a plan will minimize fear. Also consider the needs of older family members and close friends who live near you and involve them in your emergency plan and help them develop their own. Be aware of their medical needs and any immobility issues and help them craft solutions to potential problems ahead of time.
  9. Plan for your Pets - Plan where you will take your pets in the event you will stay at a hotel or other public place where pets are not allowed. Store leashes and pet carriers where they can be easily retrieved. Consider placing a bottle of water inside a carrier so your pet will have a temporary water supply close at hand if you have to quickly leave.
  10. Maintain a Disaster Supplies Kit - Both natural and human-made disasters can create a need to be self-sufficient for a short period until help arrives.
  • Family Disaster Plan

The following information is taken from publication #L-191 of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), developed in cooperation with the American Red Cross.

  • Your Family Disaster Plan

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?

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 in advance is your best protection and your responsibility.


1. Find out what could happen to you. Contact your local emergency management or civic defense office and American Red Cross chapter--be prepared to take notes:

  • Ask what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each.

  • 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.

2. Create a Disaster Plan - Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquake to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.

  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.

  • Pick two places to meet:

  • 1.      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, 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.

3. Complete This Checklist

  • 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 emergency help.

  • Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.

  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.

  • Make sure the adults in your home know how and when to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.

  • Install smoke alarms on each level of your home especially in or near all sleeping areas.

  • Conduct a home hazard hunt.

  • 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 (usually a door and a window) of each room.

  • Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.

4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan

  • Quiz your kids every six months to see if they remember what to do.

  • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.

  • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every three months.

  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.

  • Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year, or when the alarm "chirps" signaling that the batteries are running low.