Create a Custom Disaster Plan


In order to reduce the dangers of a natural or man-made disaster, terrorist attack or other emergency, you must have knowledge, tools, and a emergency plan in place. You and your family may not always be together when these events take place and you should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another.

Likewise, there are important differences among potential disaster emergencies that should impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.

The following step-by-step guide is intended to help you create your own custom plan for each potential disaster in your area:

1. Get Informed Learn the terminology, warning systems and alert notifications for disasters that might occur in your area.
2. Determine Risk & Vulnerability Assessment Identify which natural or human-caused disasters can affect your region, too. For example, if you live in Kansas, you don’t need to prepare for a hurricane, but you should be ready for tornadoes. Also, remember to consider industrial emergencies that can occur anywhere and where hazardous materials are stored, manufactured, or transported.

While some hazards, such as fire, can happen anywhere, other hazards you might encounter vary widely from place to place. Check with your local emergency management or civil defense office, Red Cross chapter, or the National Weather Service to get an idea of what emergencies you should prepare for.

Determine your vulnerability assessment, as it refers to disaster preparation and management – The process of assessing the threats from potential hazards to people and infrastructure.

Determine your risk – A measure of the expected losses due to a hazard event of a particular magnitude occurring in a given area over a specific time period.

3. Preparations – Mitigations: Actions Before Once you know what disasters are possible in your area, determine how to prepare and if one should occur. Develop general and disaster specific safety practices and procedures.

Also, be prepared for emergencies with at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food and potable water, prescription medications, first aid supplies, and other things you might need if you have no utilities and no way to purchase supplies. Create a smaller mobile kit and one for your vehicle.

Assemble shelter-in-place, mobile, and vehicle emergency disaster supplies kits.

4. Mitigation:
Actions During & After
Discuss how to respond to each hazard that could occur and how your family will stay in contact if separated during an emergency. Figure out what to do with family pets (animals other than service animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters), the elderly, and disabled persons. What might be some special needs to consider?

Choose two places to meet:

  1. Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire.
  2. Outside your neighborhood, in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate. Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

Distribute Emergency Communication ID Cards to the entire family. Hard copies are best, in case cell phone towers or power goes out.

5. Develop Custom Plan Meet with your family or household members. Discuss how to prepare and respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.

Combine all your learned knowledge, preparations and response actions to create your custom family disaster plan. To be effective, each family emergency disaster plan should be tailored to your family and the special needs of your family members, such as foods and medicines.

Create an Emergency Supplies Checklist.

6. Practice & Maintain Plan Practice and update your disaster plan with current and correct information and procedures.

Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.

7. Community Involvement You should also inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school, faith organizations, sports events and commuting. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.

Talk to community leaders, your colleagues, neighbors and members of faith or civic organizations about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.