Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.
Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
- How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan?
- What is my evacuation route?
- What is my family/household communication plan?
Step 2: Consider specific needs in your household.
As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance. Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household
- Responsibilities for assisting others
- Locations frequented
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
- Households with school-aged children
Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan
Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.
Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household
Important things to consider in an emergency family plan:
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations.
It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Ask an out-of-state friend to be your family out of town contact. After a disaster, it is often easier to call long distance. Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. You may have trouble getting through, or the telephone system may be down altogether, but be patient.
Find out what disaster plans are in place at your work, your children's school and other places your family spends time. Discuss preparedness with your family. Make sure you all understand what types of disasters can occur and what you will do in each case.
Determine two escape routes from each room in your home
Pick three places to meet: in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire. Decide a location in your neighborhood and lastly, a regional meeting place in case you can't return home.
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 and other emergency numbers including fire, police, ambulance, etc. Post these numbers near phones in your home.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms and make sure everyone knows where the fire extinguisher is and how to use it.
Learn basic first aid skills, including CPR.
Make sure your family has adequate insurance.
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- Business Insurance Coverage Worksheet
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If they know what to do during a disaster because they have practiced family disaster drills, they will be better off. When parents are calm, children calm down more quickly.
Before a disaster, parents can:
- Familiarize yourself with the emergency response plans of schools and/or daycare your children attend.
- Find out if the school/daycare will keep your kids or send them home in an emergency.
- Decide if your child gets into your home if you are not there.
- Decide if your children take care of themselves or if a neighbor takes care of them.
- Develop and practice a family disaster plan.
- Teach children how to recognize danger signals.
- Explain how to call for help (911).
- Help children memorize important family information.
- Help children memorize their street address, not the PO Box.
- Include children's toys and special foods in 72-HOUR KIT.
After a disaster, children are most afraid the disaster will happen again, someone will be hurt or killed, or they will be separated from family and left alone.
Parents can help minimize their children's fears by:
- Keeping the family together; do not leave children with relatives or friends - take your children with you.
- Calmly and firmly explain the situation and your plans.
- Talk to your children at eye level.
- Encourage children to talk about the disaster and ask questions.
- Include children in recovery activities by giving them chores that will help them feel they are helping things get back to normal.
- Reassure children with firmness and love.
- Sympathize with and resolve their anxieties.
- Hold your children and spend more time with them.
If you or someone close to you has a disability or a special need, you may have to take additional steps to protect yourself and your family in an emergency. The State of Utah offers individuals and organizations the opportunity to sign up for a voluntary Special Needs Registry to help emergency managers plan according to specific needs of their communities.
May be extremely reluctant to leave familiar surroundings when the request for evacuation comes from a stranger. A guide dog could become confused or disoriented in a disaster. People who are blind or partially sighted may have to depend on others to lead them, as well as their dog, to safety during a disaster.
May need to make special arrangements to receive warnings.
May need special assistance to get to a shelter.
Single working parent
May need help to plan for disasters and emergencies.
Non-English speaking persons
May need assistance planning for and responding to emergencies. Community and cultural groups may be able to help keep people informed.
People without vehicles
May need to make arrangements for transportation.
People with special dietary needs
Should take special precautions to have an adequate emergency food supply.
People with medical conditions
Should know the location and availability of more than one facility if dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.
People with intellectual disabilities
May need help responding to emergencies and getting to a shelter.
Should be registered in the Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return Program
Check for hazards in the home
During and right after a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break or cause fire is a home hazard. Check for items such as bookcases, hanging pictures, or overhead lights that could fall in an earthquake or a flood and block an escape path.
Be ready to evacuate
Have a plan for getting out of your home or building (ask your family or friends for assistance, if necessary). Also, plan two evacuation routes because some roads may be closed or blocked in a disaster.
- Create a network of neighbors, relatives, friends, and coworkers to aid you in an emergency. Discuss your needs and make sure everyone knows how to operate necessary equipment.
- Discuss your needs with your employer.
- If you are mobility impaired and live or work in a high-rise building, have an escape chair.
- If you live in an apartment building, ask the management to mark accessible exits clearly and to make arrangements to help you leave the building.
- Keep specialized items ready, including extra wheelchair batteries, oxygen, catheters, medication, prescriptions, food for service animals, and any other items you might need.
- Be sure to make provisions for medications that require refrigeration.
- Keep a list of the type and model numbers of the medical devices you require.
- Wear medical alert tags or bracelets to identify your disability.
- Know the location and availability of more than one facility if you are dependent on a dialysis machine or other life-sustaining equipment or treatment.