Make and Practice a Plan for National Preparedness Month
In honor of September being National Preparedness Month, we're going over the steps for how you can develop an emergency communications and evacuation plan and how to put that plan into action in the case of an emergency.
How to Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan
Fill Out an Emergency Communications List
The first step in developing an emergency preparedness plan is to fill out a communications plan for your family and household.
- Download FEMA's Family Communication Plan (for Parents and Kids)
- Download FEMA's Emergency Communication Plan Wallet Cards
Keep a copy of important numbers and addresses in your purse, wallet, backpack, or any other container that you frequently carry with you. Have another copy in a conspicuous place in the home, such as the fridge.
Make sure you have list of meeting places, including:
Indoor Meeting Place - In the event of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and other natural disasters it's important to make sure that everyone knows where to go for protection. This includes places, such as small windowless rooms, cellars, safe rooms, or storm shelters.
In the Neighborhood - If you have to evacuate the home, if there is a fire or other emergency, everyone should know where the outdoor meeting place is. Choose an area near the home, such as a large tree, neighbor's home, or the corner of the block.
Outside the Neighborhood - if you need to leave the neighborhood for safety, choose a safe meeting place in the area, such as a library, church, family or friend's home.
Then most important thing when choosing meeting places in the event of an emergency is everyone knowing where that place is.
Pick the same person for each family member to contact. It might be easier to reach someone who is out of town.
Text, don't call - unless you are in immediate danger, send a text rather than calling. Texts have an easier time getting through than phone calls and you don't want to tie up the phone lines that may be needed by emergency workers.
Share the Same Information with Everyone
- Create hard copies of FEMA's Family Communication Plan and make sure everyone carries it in their backpack, purse, or wallet.
- Post the document in a conspicuous place in the home, such as the refrigerator.
- Store at least one emergency contact name in your mobile phones and devices under "In Case of Emergency."
- Create a group message list of all the people you would want to remain in communication with during an emergency. This way, when you send one text message, everyone in the group receives the message.
- Have everyone install the Red Cross app and FEMA app for alerts, safety reminders, shelter locations, and more.
- Purchase a NOAA Weather Radio and tune to NWR for weather events, technological incidents, national emergencies, and more.
- Sign up for monthly preparedness messages on your phone by testing PREPARE to 43362.
- Read FEMA's Be Smart: Know Your Alerts and Warnings and sign up for alerts from your local district.
Put Together an Emergency Supply Kit
Use this FEMA’s Emergency Supply List for help building your supply kit.
Consider adding more items to you emergency kit depending on the unique needs of your household, such as prescription medicines, medical equipment, and pets.
Practice Makes Perfect
Have a household meeting at least once a year to review and practice your emergency communication and escape plan.
Here's how to practice your plan:
- Discuss the important information that you should send by text. You will want to make sure that you include information such as where you are and whether or not you are safe. For instance, "I'm fine. At school."
- Send a text to your emergency group list.
- Practice escaping from the home and gathering at your local meeting place, such as the end of the driveway, a neighbor's house, or under a big tree. Talk about how each of you would get to the out-of-the-neighborhood meeting place. Make sure anyone with disabilities has everything they need to safely evacuate.
- Just in case you don't have your phone on you, challenge everyone in the household to memorize important phone numbers from memory.
- Make sure everyone, including young children know how and when to call 911. Remember to only call 911 if there is a life-threatening emergency.
- Use NFPA's Escape Planning Grid to mark all of your exits and go over this document with the household.
- Review all of your communications information and update the information whenever any of your information changes.
Other Important Emergency Escape Tips:
- Test your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors every month.
- It's highly recommended to have your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors interconnected so that one sounds, they all sound.
- Have a professional inspect your heating equipment and ventilation systems at least once a year, preferably in the fall.
- Walk through your home and inspect all of your exits and escape routes. There should be at least two ways out of each room.
- Learn more about heating and fire safety.
Watch the Get Outside and Stay Outside Safety Song for Kids:
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