Creating a Household Disaster Plan
Knowing what to do, who to contact and how to take care of yourself and your family are key elements of a good family disaster plan. Public Health Preparedness at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health offers some helpful recommendations for creating a plan for your household:
Make sure each member of your family has contact information for other family members. Choose an out-of-town relative or family friend whom everyone can contact in case of an emergency. If local phone circuits are busy, long-distance calls may be easier to make.
Select two pre-determined locations where your family can meet if your home is affected by the emergency: one near your home and one farther away, in case your immediate area is affected. Know the quickest routes to both locations ahead of time.
Check the safety plan for your child's school and/or day care. Know the school's phone number and procedures for picking your child up in an emergency. Make sure the school has all of your current contact information. Additionally, find out the school's/day care's policy for emergencies: Is their plan to send children home? If so, will officials notify the parents (or designated caregiver) first? Or, if the school or day care is keeping children, does that location have a stockpile of food, water and other essential supplies? For more information on disaster preparedness to meet children's needs, visit the American Academy of Pediatrics website.
Arrange for the needs of elderly, disabled or ill family members who may need special assistance in emergencies. Public Health Preparedness at the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health recommends establishing a close network of relatives and friends who can assist your family in an emergency. Additionally, remind family members to always wear a medical alert tag or bracelet if they have threatening health conditions. Be aware of any particular mobility challenges, and plan evacuation routes. For more information on disability concerns in emergency preparedness, visit the National Organization on Disability website.
Plan for pet safety and care, and make sure that pets have clear contact and identification information on their collars. Consider microchips for your pets. Microchips are a simple implant approximately the size of a grain of rice, which contains all of your pet's vital information. Should your lost pet arrive at a shelter or the local Humane Society, the animal can be identified and returned to you. Pet owners might also pack litter and litter pans, 2 pet bowls (one for food, one for water) leashes/rope, carriers and pet vaccination records in their emergency supply kits. Visit the ASPCA's website for more information on emergency pet preparedness.
Once your disaster plan is in place, practice it on a regular basis with all the members of your household. Click here for a link to the Red Cross Family Disaster Plan Template.