Practice and Update Disaster Plan


Once you have developed your disaster plan, you need to practice and maintain it. Practicing your plan will help your family instinctively take the appropriate actions during an actual emergency; even in the middle of the night. You should review your plan at least annually and make updates as necessary.

At least once a year, have a meeting with your family to discuss and update your disaster plan with current and correct information. Determine what additional training, equipment, and supplies are needed. Practice! Occasional drills can improve reaction time and help to avoid panic in an actual emergency.[1]

Below are some methods to engage your family and practice and maintain your emergency preparedness plan:[2]

Use the test button to test your smoke alarms once a month. The test feature tests all electronic functions and is safer than testing with a controlled fire (matches, lighters, or cigarettes). If necessary, replace batteries immediately. Make sure children know what your smoke alarm sounds like. If you have battery-powered smoke alarms, replace batteries at least once a year. Some agencies recommend you replace batteries when the time changes from standard daylight savings each spring and again in the fall.

"Change your clock, change your batteries," is a positive theme and has become a common phrase. Replace your smoke alarms every 10 years. Smoke alarms become less sensitive over time. Replacing them every 10 years is a joint recommendation by the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Look at your fire extinguisher to ensure it is properly charged. Fire extinguishers will not work properly if they are not properly charged. Use the gauge or test button to check proper pressure. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for replacement or recharging fire extinguishers. If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, replace it or have it professionally serviced.

Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills at least twice a year. Actually drive evacuation routes so each driver will know the way. Select alternate routes in case the main evacuation route is blocked during an actual disaster. Mark your evacuation routes on a map; keep the map in your disaster supplies kit. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route, away from roads that may be blocked or put you in further danger.

Replace stored food and water every six months. Replacing your food and water supplies will help ensure freshness.

Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do, meeting places, phone numbers, and safety rules.


  1. U.S. Air Force – Patrick AFB – Family Disaster Planning Guide:
  2. U.S. Air Force – Patrick AFB – Family Disaster Planning Guide:
  3. Image Source:  [Accessed: June 22, 2017]