When an emergency or a natural disaster strikes, there’s nothing more important than making sure that your family is well-prepared and knowledgeable about what to do next. It’s not guaranteed that you and your loved ones will be together when these situations arise, so it’s crucial to have plans on how to contact and locate one another when it happens.

Here are some topics that you should discuss with the members of your household as soon as possible:

  • Decide on how to be ready for and how to respond to events that are likely to happen at work, school, or other places that you frequent.
  • Discuss individual responsiblities of each family member and how to work together.

When you and your family members are unexpectedly separated during an emergency, plan your response and decide on two things:

  • Where will you meet?
    • If there is a sudden emergency, such as a house fire, plan to meet in front of your home.
    • Just in case you are unable to go home or if an evacuation order is in place, choose a location right outside of your neighborhood.
  • Who would be your emergency contact person?
    • This person should live outside your immediate area. During a local emergency, phone lines can be out of service or overloaded, so it can be quicker and easier to contact someone long distrance. This contact information should be recorded in writing or on every family member’s cell phones.

When evacuation is needed, whether it’s out of your home or of your neighborhood, plan for the following:

  • Choose a meeting point and what route you would use to go there. Decide whether you should go to a relative’s or a friend’s house, a motel, a hotel or an evacuation center.
  • Practice a home evacuation at least two times a year. Use the chosen evacuation route and decide on alternate routes just in case the roads are blocked.
  • If you have pets, make sure you have the contact information of hotels/motels that accept pets, as well as relevant animal shelters that are near your evacuation routes.