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Make A Plan

Having a plan keeps you one step ahead when disaster strikes. Emergency plans include important information such as emergency contact numbers, predetermined meeting spots, coordination between friends and family, evacuation routes, and more.


Follow this basic guide to make your own plan in as little as a few minutes.

Planning Guide

Schedule a household meeting to explain potential disaster dangers and to better prepare your family, roommates, significant others, or friends to be able to respond as a team to a disaster. This meeting should also include any caregivers as well. A disaster plan should include the following components:

  • Designate an Out-of-Town Contact Person: Choose a friend or relative who lives out of town to be a contact person. Everyone should contact this person to let them know their status and location after a disaster. Make sure every family member has this person’s phone number. Give the contact person information such as insurance policy numbers and copies of important papers.

  1. Who is my emergency contact? What is their cell phone number​, email address, and physical address? ​
  2. ​Who is my backup emergency contact? What is their cell phone number, email address, and physical address? This contact should be far enough away that they will not be directly impacted by a local emergency.

  • Choose a Meeting Location: If family members separate, they should meet at a specific location after a disaster.

  1. Where are all of the emergency exits in my home, work, and school that I am most likely to use?

  2. How do I get to the nearest evacuation route from my home? Work? School?

  3. Once evacuated, where will I meet my family? Pick a spot within your neighborhood, one outside of your neighborhood, and one outside of your town or city.

  4. For more information on evacuations, visit the Evacuation page.

  • Know your Potential Hazards: When making your disaster plan. It is important to know what your risks are and how to best prepare yourself and your family for those hazards. 

  1. What hazards could affect my area? (Hint: If you're in Florida, hurricanes are a big one!)

  2. For more information on possible disasters, visit the Disasters section.

  • Make a Communication Plan: Give important phone numbers to every family member and teach children how to make emergency phone calls. Knowing what news stations, social media sites, and other avenues for information that can be trusted are important as well. 

  1. Give important phone numbers to every family member to be able to keep in contact with each other after a disaster.

  2. Write down local news stations that will broadcast important updates.

  3. Write down and follow social media pages that are being used by your local office of emergency management and government to provide the most accurate and timely information.

  4. For more information on information sources, visit the Be Informed page.

  • Write Down Important Information: Having the following documents and information in your disaster kit will help with your recovery. Consider having back-up copies stored online in a secure place as well. 

  1. Insurance providers, policy numbers, and contact information.

  2. Utility/Service providers, account numbers, and contact information.

  3. Other important billing providers, account numbers, financial records, and contact information. 

  4. Medical providers, medications/doses, information on your pharmacy, and health insurance information. 

  5. Take inventory of possessions to enable an insurance claim after a disaster. This includes having photos of serial numbers, warranties, and receipts. 

  6. Store family records such as marriage and birth certificates, passports, wills, deeds, and Social Security cards.

  • Designate Escape Routes: Create several escape routes in case of fire, and make sure everyone knows them. Instruct everyone to go to the lowest level of the home and away from windows if a tornado occurs.

  • Make a Floor Plan: Create a floor plan of every level of a home that includes windows, doors, stairways, large furniture, disaster supplies, fire extinguishers, utility shut-off points, and collapsible ladders.

  1. Learn about when and how to turn off utilities such as water, electricity, and gas. If you need tools to turn off gas and water, keep these at the shut-off valves. Turn off utilities if you suspect damage.​

  2. Purchase fire extinguishers for every level of a home and ensure that all family members know how to use them.

  3. Purchase and install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of a home, including near bedrooms.

  • Make an Alternative Plan for Special Needs: If family members have special medical needs, make a plan to ensure that these people have assistance and can evacuate if needed.

  1. Have a plan for family members or someone in your household that may be homebound to be able to get out of their home if needed. 

  2. If you have medications or medical equipment that requires electricity, you may need to consider developing plans that take this into consideration. Many people do not realize that you have to pre-register for the special needs shelter. 

  3. Any people who need extra help can register for assistance with a local municipality so that first-responders know to extend special help in a disaster.​

  • Plan for Pets: Make a plan to evacuate with pets, if necessary. If shelters don’t allow pets, animals may need to be boarded elsewhere.

  • Local Emergency Plans: Residents can inquire about local community response plans, emergency shelters, and evacuation plans. Ask about plans in place for specific areas where family members spend time, such as places of work, schools, and day-care centers. Anyone without access to private transportation needs to find out about community transportation available.

  1. Know your county and city emergency response plans. 

  2. Be familiar with your school and workplace emergency plans.

  3. Consider developing a neighborhood emergency response plan. 

  • Practice your Plan: Practice makes perfect. 

  1. Review the disaster plan every six months to ensure that it remains up to date.

  2. Test out your plan to see how you can improve it. 

  3. Quiz family members periodically to ensure that everyone knows what to do in an emergency.​

Keep this plan in your Kit! Now you're ready for an emergency!

More Information

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