How to Make a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

How to Make a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan Does your family have an emergency plan? If you're separated during the day and an earthquake, flood, fire or other natural disaster strikes, would you know how to get in touch with each other or where to meet?

While you as the adult might have an idea in your mind how to reach each member of your family, it is crucial that every member of the family is aware of exactly where your meeting place is and how to reach the other members. It takes only a short time to sit down with your family, discuss your plan and record information that you otherwise, in a time of great stress, might forget.

Print out these Family Communication Plan documents from FEMA then fill them out and discuss them with your children and every member of your household. Click the link and print the form today, while you're thinking about it, and schedule your family emergency preparedness meeting right away. Review the plan occasionally, but rest assured that you've taken the first step to prepare your family to act rather than react in an emergency by having your own family emergency preparedness plan in place.

So tell us, does your family have a designated meeting place in case of emergency?

Article originally published February 2010. Updated January 2015.

Joplin Tornado First Person Video - The Rest of the Story

You might have seen the first person video or heard the audio that was taken by one of the 18 or 19 people who survived the powerful EF5 Joplin tornado on May 22, 2011, inside the cooler at a local gas station / convenience store.  In this video, the young man who shot the video revisits the scene.  The rain has stopped and the sun is shining, but the damage and destruction is the same as these survivors saw when they exited what was left of the building that day.  Another reminder to heed the tornado warnings and sirens and to take shelter in the closest, safest place you can find.

How to Prepare for a Fire Emergency

Results of the poll on our Emergency Preparedness fan page on Facebook indicate that fire is one of the most feared emergencies that people are concerned about. Some live in areas where wildfires are prevalent; others simply fear the flames, heat, and destruction of an accidental house fire.

These fears are well justified. The American Red Cross responds to home fires more than any other disaster. They stress making a fire safety plan to prepare your home and your family in case of a fire. A few of the steps they mention include:
  • Identifying two escape routes then practicing your escape twice a year.
  • Knowing how to decide which escape route to use by looking for smoke or flame and by feeling for heat before opening doors.
  • Knowing what to do if both escape routes are blocked.
  • Having working smoke alarms on every level of your home.
  • Storing escape ladders on upper stories of your home.
While even thinking about the possibiity of a house fire is frightening, knowing you've done everything you can do to prepare is the best way to put your fears to rest.

Read the complete article on preparing your family for fire at the American Red Cross website here.

The Kidde KN-COSM-B Battery-Operated Combination Carbon Monoxide and Smoke Alarm with Talking Alarm is a besteller at and has received very good customer reviews. Studies have shown that people sleeping respond much more quickly to a voice alarm ("Fire! Fire!") than to a sound alarm (how many times have you slept through your alarm clock?). This detector has both. Read the complete description and customer reviews to decide if this is the best alarm for your home. Note that the life cycle of a smoke detector is limited, so be sure to test any smoke alarm on a regular basis.

Lessons from Natural Disasters

Natural disasters are never good news - unless you count the lessons to be learned from them. Recently, inhabitants of the Pacific rim from Hawaii to Japan to Australia learned quickly after the 8.8 earthquake in Chile that they should have emergency supplies on hand, ready to grab and run, when tsunami alerts were issued. Thankfully, devastating tsunamis didn't materialize. But they might have.

Would you have been ready to leave your home, carrying survival supplies, on short notice? Or would you have retreated with your family to higher ground having to depend on your scavenging skills to survive?

Don't learn your lesson the hard way. Be ready. Get a disaster kit and prepare to stay safe. Someday it may be essential for your survival!

Emergency Water Supply Tips

55-gallon water barrel for storing drinking water
When you're making plans and stocking supplies in case of a natural disaster or other emergency, water is likely the first thing you think of, and for good reason. No matter what, you can't live without clean drinking water and an emergency water supply should, indeed, be at the top of your list.

For emergency water storage for your family, the standard recommendation is to have on hand at least one gallon per person, per day for three days. This should provide enough water for drinking and basic sanitary needs.

The three-day or 72-hour time frame is usually sufficient time for help to arrive or services to be restored in most cases. However, if you live in an area that is historically prone to longer emergencies, such as widespread hurricane damage or flooding or even a major earthquake, three gallons of water per person may not be enough and you should consider stocking extra packets of emergency water.

Alternatively, a convenient method for long-term bulk storage of water is to catch rainwater in an approved container such as this 55-gallon water barrel which comes with a 5-year shelf life water preserver packet, a siphon pump and a bung wrench.

No matter what storage method you choose, don't put off stocking an adequate emergency water supply. Earthquakes, tornadoes, and even hurricanes offer little or no warning and having clean water on hand could become an essential for your survival any time, any place, in not much more than a blink of the eye.

High Water? Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Did you know that over half of flood-related drownings result from people driving their vehicles into high water? People underestimate the power of water and don't realize that just two feet of fast-moving water can carry away most vehicles. Often during heavy rain or flash flooding, water covers the roadway and drivers are unable to judge how deep that water is. This is especially true on unfamiliar roads or at night when visibility is poor. Unfortunately, many people proceed rather than following the simple warning: Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Still more drownings are a result of people walking into moving water, sometimes on a mission to help a stranded driver. People can be knocked over by as little as six inches of moving water. Water rescues are dangerous and sometimes result in additional drownings that could have been prevented by drivers who thought twice about driving around a roadblock or onto a flooded roadway in the first place.

Proper education about flooding is an essential for survival that should not be overlooked. This video is a quick lesson in to teach adults and children alike the importance of the lesson: Turn Around, Don't Drown!

Don't Leave Home Without Your Emergency Car Survival Kit

Remember the blizzards just before Christmas? I hope you weren't one of the hundreds of people stranded with their cars in blizzard conditions in various parts of the country. But if you were, I hope you had a car survival kit with you, fully equipped with necessities both for a mechanical problem as well as with food, water, and items to help keep you warm.

A car survival kit is something that is easily put together, or pre-assembled kits are available to buy. Whichever choice you make, be sure and assess your own personal needs before each trip, including the climate you live in or will be traveling through, and make sure you have everything you might possibly need for an unexpected emergency. While jumper cables and emergency food and water are obvious, consider a sleeping bag and warm clothing or even a shovel if you might possibly end up driving in snow. A poncho is a great addition in case of having to change a flat tire or make a repair in the rain. Remember to check the flashlight to be sure that it works and include fresh batteries. And don't forget your cell phone and charger.

It's so easy to think that it won't happen to us, but storms and road hazards often sneak up without warning. Assemble or purchase your emergency car survival kit and stow it in the trunk soon, before your next road trip. Stay safe!