Have a Communication Plan
The first concern is the safety of your family and loved ones. Because your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, it's vital to create a network of communication to ensure that everyone is accounted for and safe.
You and your family members should have:
- □ Each other's phone numbers
- □ School and workplace names, addresses, and phone numbers
- □ Procedure for who will contact who. It's sometimes faster to send a text instead of talking on phone lines that may be overloaded in an emergency.
- □ Known locations of where to go and meet in an emergency
Have an Evacuation Plan
A fire or flood is the typical reason for evacuation. But other disasters, like industrial accidents can also require evacuation. In some cases, evacuation is mandatory. In others, it's optional. The amount of time you have to react will depend on the disaster. You'll have more time for weather emergencies like hurricanes, but many other disasters require immediate evacuation. That's why planning is vital.
Here's what to do:
- □ Use your Communications Plan (above) to know in advance how you will contact your family members and where you will meet.
- □ Keep your car in good repair and try to have at least half a tank of gas at all times. If you don't have a car or don't drive, make arrangements with family members or neighbors.
- □ Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in advance to avoid confusion.
- □ Leave early. If you wait too long, you may reduce your options or be forced to remain in place.
- □ Take your Emergency Kit with you.
Safeguard Critical Documents and Valuables
FEMA Recommends taking an inventory of your household documents, contacts, and valuables so that in the case of an emergency the recovery process can start quickly. "Taking time now to safeguard these critical documents will give you peace of mind, ensure you have access to essential medical and prescription information, and help avoid additional stress during the difficult days following a disaster." Download FEMA's checklist to get started.