Emergency Evacuation Plan: Prepare Your Family For A Disaster

Emergency preparedness is not just for residents of regions impacted by tornadoes, hurricanes or other severe weather. Your community may experience several types of storms and other hazards during your lifetime. The potential emergencies in different environments, such as an office, school or travel destination, impact your decisions and the actions you take to protect yourself and your family. Having an emergency evacuation plan and having a stocked disaster supplies kit will enable you to cope with a disaster whether you are at home or away.

Gather Emergency Supplies

If severe weather strikes your area, you might not have access to food, water or electricity. The top priority in this situation is having an ample supply of clean water. A normally active person must drink at least 2 quarts of water each day, and requires at least an additional half-gallon for food preparation and hygiene. A key component of any emergency evacuation plan is to store at least a three-day supply per person if evacuating and a two-week supply per person if staying at home. Additionally, store a three-day supply of food per person if evacuating and a two-week supply per person if staying at home.

Make sure the needs of all household members are covered, including infants, seniors and pets. Assemble the items in easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks and covered bins, and label the containers clearly. Store the containers where they are easily accessible.

Disaster supplies kit

A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that could be needed in the event of a disaster. Assemble the following items to create kits for use at home, away from home and in a vehicle.

  • Water: one gallon per person, per day
  • Food: non­perishable, easy­-to­-prepare items
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlight
  • Mobile phone with charger
  • Battery powered radio
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra batteries
  • Multi-purpose tool (e.g. Swiss Army Knife)
  • First aid kit
  • Seven-day supply of medications and medical items
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Extra blankets and towels
  • Change of clothes and extra shoes
  • Copies of personal documents, including identification, medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home and insurance policies
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Maps of the area
  • Baby supplies, if necessary
  • Pet supplies, if necessary (see below)
  • Games, books, playing cards and other lightweight entertainment activities
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Extra cash

Additional supplies based on disasters common to your area:

  • Matches
  • Sleeping bags
  • Rain gear
  • Work gloves
  • Whistle
  • Surgical masks
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach

Pet supplies checklist

  • A three-day supply of food and water for each pet; food and water bowls
  • Litter and litter box or newspapers, paper towels, plastic trash bags and grooming items
  • Medications and medical records
  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers to transport pets safely
  • Pet toys and bed; blankets or towels for bedding
  • Current photos and descriptions of pets for identification purposes
  • Feeding schedules, medical conditions, veterinarian's name and contact number and any other important information

Create a Family Plan

You and your family can cope with disaster by preparing in advance, sharing responsibilities and working together as a team.  It is a good idea to have a family meeting to discuss the need for a disaster plan and to explain the dangers of severe weather to young children. Then create a disaster plan together, including a communication plan, disaster supplies kit and an evacuation plan. Additionally, be aware of the extreme weather and potential disasters that are most likely to happen in your area and practice your family plan.

Emergency Evacuation Plan Checklist

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by residence phones and program these numbers in mobile phones
  • Ensure all household members know the home's address and phone number
  • Teach younger children how and when to call 911
  • Determine and map out the best escape routes from each room in your home
  • Pick two places to meet: right outside the home and outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home
  • Teach family member of appropriate age how and when to turn off the water, gas/oil and electricity
  • Show family members where the fire extinguisher is kept and teach them how to use it
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms
  • Stock emergency supplies and assemble one or more disaster kits
  • Find out about animal care after a disaster
  • Take a CPR and first aid class

Build a safe room

Extreme weather poses a serious threat to buildings and their occupants. Even if your residence is built to code, it may not be able to withstand winds from severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and hurricanes. A safe room provides a high level of protection and can be built in an existing space in your home, including the basement, on a concrete slab foundation, garage floor or an interior room on the first floor. It must be able to withstand high winds and flying debris, even if the rest of the home is severely damaged. Sections of either the interior or exterior residence walls used as walls of the safe room must be separated from the frame structure so damage to the home will not cause damage to the safe room.

Here are some additional tips on building a safe room:

  • It must be anchored to resist overturning and uplift
  • The walls, ceiling and door of the shelter must withstand wind pressure and resist damage by wind-borne objects and falling debris
  • The connections between all parts of the safe room must be strong enough to resist wind

Disaster Preparedness Plan

Visit our Disaster Preparedness Plan page to learn more about Hurricane Safety, Thunderstorm Safety, Fire Safety Tips and Tornado Safety.