Family Emergency Planning

Family Emergency Preparedness Planning

Any number of hazardous situations can impact rural communities. These may include natural disaster sitautions, emerging or exotic diseases, or manmade threats, such as acts of terrorism or chemical spills. Regardless of the emergency or hazardous situation, one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your family is to prepare beforehand.

Use this checklist to prepare your family before a disaster situation.

Family Emergency Preparedness Plan [PDF]

Family Emergency Supply Kit List [PDF]

Family Emergency Contact Form [PDF]

Create a Family Disaster Plan

Gather information.

  • What disasters or hazards are most likely in your community? For your home?
  • How would you be warned?
  • How should you prepare for each?

Know the warning signals for your area.

  • Learn the warning systems for your community.
  • Be sure you can hear or see the appropriate warning from your home.

Obtain insurance for your family and home.

  • Check your homeowners insurance.
  • Get additional coverage for situations that may not be covered.

Stay alert for emergency broadcasts.

  • Emergency Alert System broadcasts (radio, TV)
  • NOAA weather radio alerts
  • News sources – radio, television, internet

Choose a post-hazard meeting place for your family.

  • A safe distance from your home for sudden emergencies (e.g., fire).
  • Outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  • Learn where area evacuation shelters are located.

Make a family communication plan.

  • Know how you will contact each other if you are at work, school or other location.
  • Have an out-of-state friend or relative serve as an emergency contact for everyone to call
  • Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, including neighborhood contacts.
  • Give emergency numbers to all family members and post by every phone.

Make a family emergency supply kit.

  • You may need to survive on your own temporarily until you can get assistance.
  • Prepare a kit with 3 or more days of supplies (food, water, clothing).

Share the above information with your family.

  • Meet with all members of your household.
  • Discuss the types of hazards that could occur.
  • Discuss your family’s plan.
  • Practice your plans.

Plan how you and your neighbors could work together during a disaster.

  • Create a neighborhood communication plan.
  • Help neighbors with special needs, such as elderly or disabled persons.
  • Make plans for the care of children, if parents cannot get home.
  • Learn response plans for your children’s schools or child care facilities.

Don’t forget to include plans for your pets.

Family Emergency Plan Situations


  • Take immediate shelter wherever you are – home, work, school or in between – rather than entering into a hazardous situation.
  • Used for situations such as severe storms, winter weather, biological emergencies.
  • Time will vary; few hours to several days.


  • Leaving your current location and seeking shelter at a safer place.
  • For situations such as flood or chemical accidents.
  • Time will vary; days, weeks - it may be never for some situations (e.g., flood).

Important Websites

Build a Kit
Website with information and links for making, storing and maintaining a disaster supply kit.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Family Emergency Plan
Downloadable templates to use for developing a Family Emergency Plan.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Plan and Prepare
Website with preparedness information, includes interactive media to help you "Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed."
American Red Cross (ARC)
Website of information and resources to help you and your family get prepared for disaster situations.
Federal Emergency Management Agency and Citizens Corps
Safe and Well Website
After a disaster, let your family and friends konw that you are safe and well.
American Red Cross (ARC)

Additional Preparedness Resources

Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness
FEMA's comprehensive guidebook on individual, family, and community disaster preparedness.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Be Red Cross Ready: Taking Care of Your Emotional Health After a Disaster
Tips on recognizing mental health issues related to disaster and taking action to correct them.
American Red Cross (ARC)
Evacuating Yourself and Your Family
Website with information on evacuating prior to a disaster and measures to take to stay safe.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Food and Water Needs: Preparing for a Disaster or Emergency
Information on gathering safe food and water before a disaster or emergency situation.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Health and Safety Concerns for All Disasters
Website with links to information on various health and safety issues that can occur during or after disaster situations
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Personal Preparation and Storage of Safe Water
Information on how to prepare (boil, disinfect) water supplies in preparation for a disaster situation or after a disaster.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Sheltering
Website with information on sheltering-in-place and measures to implement.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)

For Kids

Disaster Preparedness Coloring Book
Colorbook for kids to teach them about how to prepare for disaster sitautions.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
Let's Get Ready: Planning Together for Emergencies
Sesame Street website for parents and kids with tips, activities and other tools to help get your family prepared for emergencies.
Sesame Workshop Youth Preparedness Program
Website to teach kids how to be perpared for disasters.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)