Make a Plan

Preparedness starts with a plan; a playbook detailing how you and your family will respond in an emergency. When making your plan, think about the people and places in your daily lives. Talk to close friends and family about their plans. Develop plans together and include versions for work, school and other places you spend time.

Write and rehearse family evacuation and communication plans that identify a family meeting place, account for special needs, list emergency numbers and names an Out-of-Town Contact. Get started by downloading our free Family Emergency Communication Plan template. Or you can download the Spanish version.

The more options you think of today, the more prepared you’ll be tomorrow. Things to think about include:

Plan for the Needs of Family

Think about family members who may have access and functional, and/or specific supply needs. Here are some ideas to consider: 

For Babies

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered Milk
  • Medications
  • Baby Wipes
  • Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Vaccination Records
  • List of allergic reactions

For Seniors

  • Label any equipment (wheelchairs, canes and walkers) with your name and contact information.
  • Make a list of prescription medications including your dosage for your supply kit.
  • Have a list of your allergies in your supply kit.
  • Pack an extra pair of eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries.
  • Have extra special equipment (like wheelchair batteries, etc.) in your kit.
  • Make a list of serial numbers for any medical devices for your kit.
  • Make copies of all medical insurance and Medicare cards.
  • Keep a list of doctors and emergency contacts.

Have an Out-of-Town Contact

Identify a friend or relative who lives out-of-town for family members to notify they are safe in an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than a local one, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to relay messages between separated family members.

If you have an Out-of-Town Contact we'd love to hear about it. Tell us the city and state (no names or addresses) where they live so we can pin their location to our #PhoneAFriend map. If you don't have a contact, it's as easy as calling or texting a friend or relative who lives--preferrably--in another state, asking them to be your family's contact (and maybe offering to be theirs in return), and updating your family communication plan.

Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

  • It may be easier to call long-distance than call across town. Have a common out-of-town contact that can share information with all family members.
  • Make sure everyone has the phone number of your Out-of-Town Contact.
  • Give everyone coins or a prepaid phone card to make this emergency call.
  • You may not get through right away. Keep trying and be patient.

Evacuating With Your Pet

Think about where you will go with your pet and how you will get there if you have to leave home during an emergency. Plan to shelter your pet at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the area. Also, make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices outside your "immediate area" that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies as well as a list of hotels or motels that are currently or will be pet-friendly during an emergency.

In planning for an emergency, follow these important steps:

  • Arrange for family or friends outside of the affected area to shelter your pet.
  • Identify animal-friendly hotels/motels outside of the affected area.
  • Talk with your local veterinarian, boarding kennel, or grooming facility to see if they can offer safe shelter for your pet during an emergency.
  • Practice your departure plans to familiarize your pet with the process and increase his/her comfort level.
  • Know your pet’s hiding places so you can easily find him/her during an emergency.
  • Keep in mind a stressed pet may behave differently than normal and his/her aggression level may increase. Use a muzzle to prevent bites. Also be advised that panicked pets may try to flee.
  • Create a Go Bag for your pet or service animal – a collection of items your pet may need in case of an evacuation. Discuss your pet’s Go Bag with your local veterinarian to see if there are any special items that you should include.

For more information, visit our pet preparedness page