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Home Emergency Preparedness

How to Create a Family Emergency Plan

Disaster on the road

A critcal step to preparing for an emergency is to make sure your family has an emergency plan. The importance lies in the fact that your family may not be located together when a disaster strikes. So, you must have a plan in advance to determine how your family will get to a safe place, whom each family member will contact, how your family will get back together, and what each person will do in different situations.


Use our free Family Emergency Plan form to organize this information. For your convenience, the form automatically creates four emergency contact cards that you can cut-out and give to each family member. Adults can keep the cards in their wallet, purse, briefcase, etc. Additionally, you should complete contact cards for each child in your family and put them in their backpacks or book bags.

EASY 5-STEP GUIDE TO CREATING YOUR FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN:

Step 1: Download Free PDF Form

Download our free PDF form to organize your family's emergency plan. Open it in Adobe Acrobat and click on the form fields to type in your information. For your convenience, the contact names and meeting place information that you enter on page one are automatically copied to the four emergency contact cards located on page two. It is a good idea to first review the entire form and take an inventory of all the information that you'll need to gather to complete it.

Step 2: Organize Your Emergency Contact Network

To complete your family's emergency preparedness plan, you'll likely need to talk to some relatives and friends to identify designated contacts who live out-of-state. These will be people that your household members should notify in case of disaster to let them know they are safe. You want them to live out-of-state because local phone-lines are more likely to be impacted than long-distance lines. So, an out-of-town contact may be better positioned to communicate among separated family members.

It is important that each family member knows the phone number of the emergency contact and has a cell phone, coins, or phone card to call the emergency contact. Emergency preparedness experts suggest you should have the emergency contact stored in your phone under "ICE" for "in-case-of-emergency." Emergency responders often check for ICE listed under contacts to know whom to contact in case of disaster.

Also, you should teach your family to use text messaging (or SMS, for Short Message Service) following a disaster. Cell phone networks get jammed up due to high call traffic after a disaster. SMS messages, however, use up very little bandwidth from cellular phone networks. Therefore, text messages often avoid any network disruptions making them the most reliable way to reach your emergency contacts with a cell phone.

Step 3: Decide Where You'll Meet

You will also need to identify a neighborhood meeting place which could be your home, a relative's home nearby, or even a close friend's house. Then, you should also decide upon a regional meeting place in case, for example, you are spread out across a city when a disaster strikes. This could be a landmark or park. Finally, you should have an evacuation location that you are all familiar with in case it is unsafe to meet at any of these other locations. This should generally be somewhere as rural as possible to avoid any hazards.

Step 4: Print and Store Your Preparedness Plan

When you are finished completing the form, print the form and store page one inside your emergency survival kit that you keep at home. For added convenience, the contact names and meeting place information that you enter on page one are automatically copied to the four emergency contact cards located on page two of the form.

Step 5: Distribute Emergency Contact Cards

Walking ShoesCut-out the contact cards on page two. Handwrite any additional or individual instructions on each card and distribute them to each member of your family. Tell the adults to keep them handy in a wallet, purse, briefcase, etc. For kids, we recommend you stick the cards in their backpacks or book bags.