Disasters strike without warning and being prepared at home will help to insure that you and your family can make the best of a bad situation. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but in many cases they cannot reach everyone right away and you need to be ready to take care of yourself for up to three days.
Some emergencies can force you to evacuate from your neighborhood or confine you to your home. It is important that you know what to do if basic services-water, gas, electricity or telephones-were cut off. Preparing in advance and working together as a team make it much easier to cope with an emergency situation.
Contact your local emergency management office to find out:
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Many families already have an emergency plan for a house fire, so making an all-hazard plan will just add a few more details. Every member of the family will have a role during an emergency, so it is important to share ideas, responsibilities and work as a team when you create your plan.
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 the case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
2. Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
Everyone in the family should know the address and phone number of the designated meeting place.
Pick an out-of-town or out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance than to make a local call. All family members should call this person and tell them if they are safe, and where they are to help reduce panic during an emergency.
Discuss what to do in an evacuation and keep reference materials distributed by utilities and emergency managers with evacuation zones and routes in a designated area. Take some time to plan for your pets.