Make a Plan

Preparedness starts with a plan; a playbook detailing how you and your family will respond in an emergency. When making your plan, think about the people and places in your daily lives. Talk to close friends and family about their plans. Develop plans together and include versions for work, school and other places you spend time.

Write and rehearse family communication and preparedness plans that identify a family meeting place, account for special needs, and include local emergency numbers and an “out-of-town” contact.

The more options you think of today, the more prepared you’ll be tomorrow. Things to think about include:

Plan for the Special Needs of Family:

Think about family members who may need special attention or supplies in an emergency. Modify your family planning and emergency kits to include them. Here are some ideas to consider: 

For Babies:

  • Formula
  • Diapers
  • Bottles
  • Powdered Milk
  • Medications
  • Baby Wipes
  • Diaper Rash Ointment
  • Vaccination Records
  • List of allergic reactions

For Seniors:

  • Label any equipment (wheelchairs, canes and walkers) with your name and contact information.
  • Make a list of prescription medications including your dosage for your supply kit.
  • Have a list of your allergies in your supply kit.
  • Pack an extra pair of eyeglasses and hearing aid batteries.
  • Have extra special equipment (like wheelchair batteries, etc.) in your kit.
  • Make a list of serial numbers for any medical devices for your kit.
  • Make copies of all medical insurance and Medicare cards.
  • Keep a list of doctors and emergency contacts.

Have an "Out-of-State" Contact:

Identify a a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for family members to notify they are safe in an emergency. 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 relay messages between separated family members.

Teach family members how to use text messaging (also known as SMS or Short Message Service). Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.

  • It may be easier to call long-distance than call across town. Have a common out-of-state contact that can share information with all family members.
  • Make sure everyone has the phone number of your "Out-of-State" contact.
  • Give everyone coins or a prepaid phone card to make this emergency call.
  • You may not get through right away. Keep trying and be patient.

Evacuating With Your Pet:

Think about where you will go with your pet and how you will get there if you have to leave home during an emergency. Plan to shelter your pet at a kennel or with friends or relatives outside the area. Also, make a list of boarding facilities and veterinary offices outside your "immediate area" that might be able to shelter animals in emergencies as well as a list of hotels or motels that are currently or will be pet-friendly during an emergency.

In planning for an emergency, follow these important steps:

  • Arrange for family or friends outside of the affected area to shelter your pet.
  • Identify animal-friendly hotels/motels outside of the affected area.
  • Talk with your local veterinarian, boarding kennel, or grooming facility to see if they can offer safe shelter for your pet during an emergency.
  • Practice your departure plans to familiarize your pet with the process and increase his/her comfort level.
  • Know your pet’s hiding places so you can easily find him/her during an emergency.
  • Keep in mind a stressed pet may behave differently than normal and his/her aggression level may increase. Use a muzzle to prevent bites. Also be advised that panicked pets may try to flee.
  • Create a Go Bag for your pet or service animal – a collection of items your pet may need in case of an evacuation. Discuss your pet’s Go Bag with your local veterinarian to see if there are any special items that you should include.


Do 1 Thing Visual Factsheets: