How to Create a Family Emergency Plan

How to Create a Family Emergency Plan

Creating a family emergency plan is essential to ensure that your family knows how to respond quickly and effectively in case of an emergency. A well-thought-out plan can help keep everyone safe and reduce the stress and chaos that emergencies can bring. Here’s a comprehensive guide to creating a family emergency plan.

1. Identify Potential Emergencies

Common Emergencies

  • Natural Disasters: Earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires.
  • Man-Made Disasters: Fires, chemical spills, power outages.
  • Medical Emergencies: Sudden illness, severe injury.
  • Other Emergencies: Burglary, terrorism, missing family members.

Specific Risks

  • Assess Local Risks: Consider the types of emergencies that are most likely to occur in your area.
  • Family-Specific Risks: Identify any specific risks related to family members’ health conditions or other factors.

2. Develop a Communication Plan

Emergency Contacts

  • Primary Contacts: List contact information for each family member, including cell phones, work numbers, and emails.
  • Out-of-Area Contact: Designate an out-of-area contact person that family members can call to check-in during an emergency.

Communication Methods

  • Mobile Phones: Ensure everyone has a charged mobile phone and backup power sources.
  • Social Media: Use social media platforms to update status and check on family members.
  • Emergency Apps: Download emergency apps that provide alerts and information, such as FEMA or Red Cross apps.

Meeting Points

  • Home: Choose a safe spot inside your home (like a basement or interior room) for sheltering in place.
  • Neighborhood: Identify a meeting point near your home (like a neighbor’s house or a landmark) in case of a sudden evacuation.
  • Out-of-Area: Designate a location outside your neighborhood where family members can meet if they are separated.

3. Create an Evacuation Plan

Evacuation Routes

  • Primary Route: Plan primary evacuation routes from your home, considering different directions and potential obstacles.
  • Alternative Routes: Identify alternative routes in case the primary route is blocked or unsafe.


  • Family Vehicles: Ensure all vehicles are fueled and maintained.
  • Public Transport: Know the location of nearby public transportation options.
  • Special Needs: Plan for the transportation of family members with special needs, including pets.

4. Assemble Emergency Kits

Essential Supplies

  • Water: At least one gallon per person per day for at least three days.
  • Food: Non-perishable food for at least three days.
  • First Aid Kit: Include bandages, antiseptics, medications, and other medical supplies.
  • Clothing and Bedding: Extra clothing, sturdy shoes, blankets, and sleeping bags.
  • Tools and Supplies: Flashlight, batteries, multipurpose tool, matches, whistle, and local maps.

Personal Items

  • Documents: Copies of important documents (ID, insurance policies, medical records) stored in a waterproof container.
  • Cash: Keep some cash in small bills.
  • Family and Pet Supplies: Include items specific to family members (baby formula, diapers) and pets (food, leash, carrier).


  • Regular Checks: Regularly check and update the contents of your emergency kits.
  • Expiration Dates: Monitor expiration dates on food, water, and medications.

5. Practice and Review


  • Regular Drills: Conduct regular emergency drills to ensure everyone knows what to do.
  • Different Scenarios: Practice different types of emergencies, including fire drills, evacuation drills, and shelter-in-place drills.

Review and Update

  • Annual Review: Review and update your emergency plan at least once a year.
  • Life Changes: Update your plan as needed due to changes in family size, health conditions, or living situations.

6. Educate Family Members

Age-Appropriate Training

  • Young Children: Teach them how to recognize an emergency, memorize important phone numbers, and understand basic safety procedures.
  • Older Children: Teach them how to use emergency equipment, such as fire extinguishers, and practice emergency drills.

Special Instructions

  • Medical Conditions: Ensure everyone knows how to assist family members with medical conditions or special needs.
  • Pet Safety: Teach family members how to safely handle and evacuate pets during an emergency.

7. Stay Informed

Alerts and Warnings

  • Emergency Alerts: Sign up for local emergency alerts and notifications.
  • Weather Apps: Use weather apps to stay updated on severe weather conditions.

Information Sources

  • News: Monitor local news for information and instructions during an emergency.
  • Government Websites: Follow guidance from official government websites like FEMA, CDC, and local emergency management agencies.

8. Community Resources

Local Emergency Services

  • Know Contacts: Know the contact information for local emergency services, including police, fire department, and hospitals.
  • Community Plans: Understand your community’s emergency plan and resources available.

Neighbors and Support Networks

  • Neighborhood Plans: Coordinate with neighbors to assist each other during emergencies.
  • Support Networks: Identify local support networks and resources, such as shelters and community centers.


Creating a family emergency plan involves careful preparation, clear communication, and regular practice. By identifying potential risks, establishing communication and evacuation plans, assembling emergency kits, and educating family members, you can ensure your family is ready to respond effectively in an emergency. Regularly review and update your plan to keep it current and relevant. Stay informed and connected with your community to enhance your family’s safety and resilience.

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