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.

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.

4 Steps to Safety

  1. Find Out What Could Happen to You:
  2. Create a Disaster Plan:
  3. Download A Family Action Plan.

  4. Complete This Checklist:
    1. Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
    2. Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
    3. Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches.
    4. Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
    5. Get training from the fire department for each family member on how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
    6. Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
    7. Conduct a home hazard hunt.
    8. Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
    9. Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
    10. Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
    11. Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
  5. Practice and Maintain Your Plan:

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 hazards.


Emergency Supplies

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 back-packs, duffel bags, or covered trash containers.



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.

If Disaster Strikes

Car Mini-Survival Kit

Here is a list of some items you should keep in your car.

Building Your Family's 72 Hour Kits

This page is intended to help you prepare for disasters (large and small) before they happen. Using this procedure, your family can assemble a 72 hour and emergency evacuation kit in small steps over a six month period. Recent events, however, have shown that your kit should be capable of supporting you and your family for at least 6 days! Check off each item for each week as you gather the contents and finish the "To Do" work. Supplies may be stored all together in a large plastic garbage can or food may be kept on kitchen or pantry shelves. Remember to rotate your perishable supplies and change water as needed for freshness. An asterisk (*) next to an item means "for each family member".

Remember: Check the kit every few months to be sure your supplies are fresh!

Create a Family Disaster Supplies Kit

To Get Started: Should you evacuate? Practice your plan. Remember to rotate your supplies as needed for freshness!

Note: Items marked with an asterisk "*" should be purchased for each member of the household. For water, plan to have one gallon of water, per person, per day! Pets should be counted also when figuring water!

Week 1, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 gallon Water*
( ) 1 jar Peanut Butter
( ) 32 oz canned Juice
( ) 1 manual Can Opener
( ) Instant Coffee, Tea and Powdered Drink Mix
( ) Permanent Marking Pen to mark dates
( ) 1 gal Water per Pet

ALSO: Pet food, Diapers, Baby food

 To Do:

( ) Make Family Plan
( ) Date perishable food items using pen
Week 2, From Hardware Store
( ) Crescent Wrench
( ) 50 ft Heavy Rope
( ) 1 roll Duct Tape
( ) 2 Flashlights with batteries
( ) "Bungee" Cords

ALSO: Pet leash or carrier

 To Do:

( ) Check for household hazards
( ) Add latches to kitchen cabinet doors and acquire / install window protection devices
Week 3, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 gallon Water*
( ) 8 oz canned Meat*
( ) 16 oz canned Fruit
( ) 1 bx Sanitary Napkins
( ) 1 Video Tape
( ) 1 gal Water per Pet

ALSO: Pet food, Diapers, Baby food

To Do:

( ) Video tape home contents for insurance purposes
( ) Store video tape in a secure location
Week 4, From Hardware Store
( ) 1 roll Plumber's Tape
( ) 1 Crow bar
( ) Smoke Detector with batteries

ALSO: extra medications or prescriptions marked "emergency use" if needed

To Do:

( ) Install / Test smoke detectors
( ) Plan for Pet sheltering
Week 5, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 gal Water*
( ) 8 oz canned Meat*
( ) 16 oz canned Fruit*
( ) 16 oz canned Vegetables*
( ) 2 roll Toilet Paper*
( )Extra Toothbrush*
( ) Toothpaste

ALSO: Special Diet Foods if needed

To Do:

( ) Have home fire drill
Week 6, From First Aid Supply Store
( ) Aspirin or Acetominophin
( ) Compresses
( ) Roller Gauze
( ) First Aid Tape
( ) Adhesive Bandages

ALSO: extra hearing aid batteries if needed

To Do:

( ) Check into Day Care or School Disaster Plans if you have children
Week 7, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 gallon Water*
( ) 16 oz Ready-To-Eat Soup*
( ) 16 oz canned Fruit*
( ) 16 oz canned Vegetables*
( ) 1 gal Water per Pet

ALSO: Extra plastic baby bottles, formula and diapers if needed

 To Do:

( ) Establish an Emergency Contact
Week 8, From First Aid Supply Store
( ) Scissors
( ) Tweezers
( ) Antiseptic
( ) Thermometer
( ) Liquid Hand Soap
( ) Disposable hand wipes
( ) Sewing Kit

ALSO: Extra glasses, saline solution, contact lenses and lens case if needed

To Do:

( ) Place extra shoes and flashlight under beds for emergency use at night
Week 9, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 gallon Water*
( ) 16 oz Ready-To-Eat Soup*
( ) Liquid Dish Soap
( ) Plain Liquid Bleach
( ) 1 box Heavy Garbage Bags
( ) 1 gal Water per Pet

ALSO: Extra Pet food, Diapers, Baby food

 To Do:

( ) place "family photos" in a secure place
Week 10, From Hardware Store
( ) Waterproof portable plastic container with lid for important papers
( ) Portable AM/FM radio with batteries

ALSO: Blankets or sleeping bags for each family member

To Do:

( ) Photocopy important documents
( ) Store securely
Week 11, From Grocery Store
( ) 32 oz canned Juice*
( ) Large plastic food bags
( ) 1 box energy snacks
( ) 3 roll paper towels

ALSO: Sunscreen

 To Do:

( ) Store a roll of quarters and dimes for phone calls
( ) Locate nearest payphone
Week 12, From First Aid Supply Store
( ) Anti-diarrhea medicine
( ) Rubbing alcohol
( ) 2 pr latex gloves
( ) Ipecac syrup and activated charcoal
( ) children's vitamins

ALSO: Denture care items if needed

 To Do:

( ) Locate utility shut offs and show the family
Week 13, From Hardware Store
( ) Whistle
( ) ABC Fire Extinguisher
( ) Pliers
( ) Vise-Grips

 To Do:

( ) Take First Aid and CPR classes
Week 14, From Grocery Store
( ) 16 oz canned Fruit*
( ) 8 oz canned Meat*
( ) 16 oz canned Vegetables*
( ) 1 pk Paper Plates
( ) 1 pk Plastic Utensils
( ) 1 pk Paper Cups
( ) Adult Vitamins

 To Do:

( ) Plan to check on neighbors
Week 15, From Hardware Store
( ) Extra Flashlight with batteries
( ) 1 roll Masking Tape
( ) Hammer
( ) Assorted Nails
( ) "L" brackets for securing furniture
( ) Wood Screws

To Do:

( ) Check roof turbines and prepare covers or plan for storage
( ) Secure Water Heater and other appliances and furniture against movement
Week 16, From Grocery Store
( ) 8 oz canned Meat*
( ) 16 oz canned Vegetables*
( ) Heavy Garbage Bags
( ) Kleenex
( ) Quick energy snacks

To Do:

( ) Find neighborhood safety organizations
( ) Join them
Week 17, From Grocery Store
( ) 1 box Graham Crackers
( ) Assorted plastic containers with lids
( ) Assorted safety pins
( ) Dry cereal

 To Do:

( ) Arrange for friend or neighbor to care for children when needed
Week 18, From Hardware Store
( ) Latches or fasteners for cupboards
( ) Double sided tape and velcro fasteners

To Do:

( ) Pack a "go-pack" in case of evacuation
( ) Finish securing cabinets, furniture and appliances
Week 19, From Grocery Store
( ) Heavy garbage bags
( ) Quick energy snacks

To Do:

( ) Have home disaster drill
Week 20, From Hardware Store
( ) Camping or utility knife
( ) Extra radio with batteries

ALSO: Purchase emergency escape ladder for second floor bedrooms if needed

To Do:

( ) Learn workplace disaster plans
Week 21, From Hardware Store
( ) Heavy work gloves
( ) Disposable dust masks
( ) Screwdrivers
( ) Safety goggles
Week 22, From Hardware Store
( ) Extra manual can opener
( ) 3 roll Paper towels
Week 23, From Grocery Store
( ) Camping lantern with extra fuel or batteries
( ) Extra flashlights with batteries
Week 24, From Hardware Store
( ) Large plastic food containers
( ) Plastic food wrap
( ) Aluminum Foil