Make A Plan

Make a Plan

Your family may not be together if disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations. Draw up a Family Communications Plan (PDF) and include the following:

  • Out-of-state contact person - Gather a phone number and email for this contact. ­ It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members. Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.

  • Vital Information List - Have a list of the following information for each family member and keep it up to date: 
    • Name
    • Date of birth
    • Important medical information
    • Phone/walkie-talkie
  • Where to Go in an Emergency ­ - Write down where your family spends the most time: work, school and other places you frequent. Include the following:
    • Address
    • Neighborhood meeting place
    • Phone number
    • Regional meeting place for home, school and places you frequent
  • The Name, Telephone, Policy Number
    • Doctors
    • Homeowners/rental insurance
    • Medical insurance
    • Other useful phone numbers
    • Pharmacist
  • Family Communications Plan - Each family member should carry an abbreviated copy of your Family Communications Plan, which should include:
    • Contact name and telephone
    • Emergency phone numbers (911 for emergencies)
    • Neighborhood meeting place and telephone
    • Other important phone numbers and information.
    • Out-of-town contact name and telephone

Important Family Documents

Keep these records in a waterproof, portable container:

  • Bank account numbers
  • Credit card account numbers and companies
  • Family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
  • Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
  • Passports, Social Security cards, immunization records
  • Will, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, stocks and bonds


It is a good idea to locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main for your home. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off, and teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.

Be Informed

Visit the following websites to find out about different emergencies and how to prepare for them:

  • U.S. Department of Homeland Security ­- Download a Family Communications Plan.
  • American Red Cross - Purchase ready-made emergency preparedness kits online.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - ­FEMA offers 'Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness, a comprehensive source on individual, family, and community preparedness,
  • HOPE Coalition America - ­Download a free Emergency Financial First Aid Kit, a simple tool to help Americans minimize the financial impact of a natural disaster or national emergency, and a companion document, the Personal Disaster Preparedness Guide.