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. Work together and talk through scenarios 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, include emergency numbers and name an Out-of-Town Contact. Get started by downloading our Family Communication Plan template in English (PDF) or Spanish (PDF).
The more options you think of today, the more prepared you’ll be tomorrow. Things to think about include:
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.
Teach family members how to use text messaging and set up group texts in advance of an emergency). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
- 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. 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 pet-friendly lodging in potential evacuation spots.
In planning for an emergency with your pet, look over the following checklist:
- 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.
- Place a “pet inside” sticker on a prominent place on your home to help alert emergency response personnel to pets that may be inside.
- If time permits, note on your home that you have “evacuated with pets.”
- Keep in mind a stressed pet may behave differently than normal and his/her aggression level may increase. Also be advised that panicked pets may try to flee.
- Create an emergency go kit for your pet or service animal – a collection of items your pet may need in case of an evacuation. Discuss your pet’s go kit with your local veterinarian to see if there are any special items that you should include.