Developing an emergency plan is an effective way to assure that everyone that you care for knows how to respond in the event of an emergency. Learn about the hazards and risks in your area, talk to members of your household about what to do in different scenarios. Consider the following:
- How will you contact one another?
- How will you get back together?
- What will you do in different situations?
It may be difficult to communicate with family and friends through traditional means during and after an emergency. Use these tips to help you connect with those that you care for after an emergency.
- Establish an out-of-state emergency contact.
- Pick two meeting locations outside of the home (one near and one outside the neighborhood).
- Keep a hard-copy of important phone numbers and addresses in your wallet.
- Consider texting instead of calling when phone lines are busy.
When community evacuations are deemed necessary, local officials may notify you using one or more of the following: the Emergency Notification System, National Weather Radio network, outdoor warning sirens, and the Emergency Alert System. Local media may also provide valuable information regarding the evacuation process. The amount of time you have to evacuate will depend on the nature of the disaster, so be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. You should have enough supplies on-hand should you have to leave with limited warning.
- Assemble an emergency kit.
- Determine where you will go if you must evacuate and communicate the location with everyone in your household.
- Map multiple evacuation routes. During certain types of emergencies, some roads might be impassable.
- Make arrangements ahead of time with relatives and friends you may be able to stay with during an evacuation.
- In some instances, mass care shelters may be opened to provide sheltering to individuals who have been temporarily displaced from their homes. Pay attention to local authorities and news media to see if such a shelter is available. If you have other options for shelter available to you, make use of them instead of a mass care shelter.
There may be times when you are instructed to “shelter- in-place.” The actions you take will differ depending on the situation. When making your family emergency plan, discuss which rooms in your home will be your “safe rooms” for each type of disaster. Different scenarios will require different locations to shelter-in-place. For example, during a tornado warning, you should go to a basement or an interior room on the lowest floor. During a hazardous materials spill or chemical event, you should go to an above ground room, since many chemicals are heavier than air. In all shelter-in-place scenario’s, listen to instructions provided by local authorities if they are available. When instructed to shelter-in-place:
- Close all doors and windows.
- Turn off ventilation systems (heating and air conditioning) and close fireplace dampers.
- Take your disaster supplies and a radio with you. Go to a room with the fewest doors and windows and seal the room. Cut plastic sheeting to fit over windows and vents ahead of time, then secure it with duct tape.
- Place a damp towel at the base of the door.
- Stay in the room and listen for news on the radio or television. Do not come out until you are told it is safe, or you are told by authorities to evacuate.
- Consider keeping some basic disaster supplies (flashlight, radio, water and food) in each of the safe rooms in your home. Or, you might plan to take your “go” kit with you to your safe room.