Family Disaster Plan -
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Disasters 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 is your best protection and your responsibility.
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
4 Steps to Safety
Find Out What Could Happen to You
Contact your local emergency management or civil defense
office and American Red Cross chapter--be prepared to take
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
Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if
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.
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 earthquakes 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:
Right outside your home in case of a sudden
emergency, like a fire.
Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return
home. Everyone must know the address and phone
Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact."
After a disaster, its 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.
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.
Teach each family member how to use the fire
extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home,
especially near bedrooms.
Conduct a home hazard hunt.
Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster
Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find
two ways out of each room.
Find the safe spots in your home for each type of
Practice and Maintain Your Plan
Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to
Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
Replace stored water every three months and stored food
every six months.
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the
batteries at least once a year.
Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at
least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items
you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy,
easy-to-carry containers such as backpacks, duffle bags or
covered trash containers.
A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day)
and food that won't spoil.
One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one
blanket or sleeping bag per person.
A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription
Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio,
flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or
Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family
An extra pair of glasses.
Keep important family documents in a waterproof container.
Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.
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.
NEIGHBORS HELPING NEIGHBORS
Working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with
your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together
after a disaster until help arrives. If you're a member of a
neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime
watch group, introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity.
Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical)
and consider how you could help neighbors who have special
needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for
child care in case parents can't get home.
HOME HAZARD HUNT
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.
Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire
Evacuate immediately if told to do so:
Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the
instructions of local emergency officials.
Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
Take your family disaster supplies kit
Lock your home.
Use travel routes specified by local authorities--don't use
shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or
you're sure you have time:
Shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving, if
instructed to do so.
Post a note telling others when you left and where you are
Make arrangements for your pets.
IF DISASTER STRIKES
If disaster strikes, remain calm and patient. Put your plan into
Check for injuries. Give first aid and get help for seriously
Listen to your battery powered radio for news and instructions.
Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and
Check for damage in your home:
Use flashlights--do not light matches or turn on electrical
switches, if you suspect damage.
Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards.
Sniff for gas leaks, starting at the water heater. If you
smell gas or suspect a leak, turn off the main gas valve,
open windows, and get everyone outside quickly.
Shut off any other damaged utilities.
Clean up spilled medicines, bleaches, gasoline and other
flammable liquids immediately.
Confine or secure your pets.
Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again
unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled
Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service
is cut off.
Stay away from downed power lines.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency's Family Protection
Program and the American Red Cross' Disaster Education Program
are nationwide efforts to help citizens prepare for disasters of
all types. For more information, please contact your local
emergency management or civil defense office, and your local
American Red Cross chapter. Start planning now.