Before an Emergency


Carefully considering your options in advance helps provide peace of mind in an emergency. Having a family disaster plan will guide you in protecting yourself, your family, and your property.

Visualize problems you may face and decide which solutions work best. The highest priority is your safety. Decide which situations could force you to leave your home. If you will remain in your home - perhaps for several days - what steps will you take to keep yourself safe, secure, and comfortable? While most emergencies will not require evacuation, they can arrive with little or no warning.

VISIT for assistance in building a family or business disaster plan.


  1. Educate yourself on the requirements for responding to a fire, flood, hurricane, or tornado.
  2. Decide when you would evacuate. Understand the construction and location of your home and determine what plans you should utilize. Are you in a low-lying area that may flood? Are you in a coastal high-wind zone? Does your home meet the current building code for hurricanes? Do you live in a high-fire hazard area? If you are asked to evacuate by authorities, do so promptly and be prepared to be away from your home for the duration of the event.
  3. List simple action steps in priority order. These will vary with the nature of the threat.
  1. Create an emergency kit with supplies and copies of essential documents kept in water-resistant containers.
  2. Make arrangements for emergency communications. Have school and work phone numbers handy. Establish a meeting place for family members in the event of a home fire or if a disaster occurs while you are not together. Have a local contact and one from out of state and ensure each member of your family has their contact information.
  3. Identify special transportation or medical needs in the event of an evacuation. Inform local emergency management of these needs.
  1. Have a plan for pets. Most shelters do not accept pets; however, local hotels may loosen restrictions on pets during an evacuation.  Arrange to stay with friends or family, not in the evacuation zone who are willing to house you and your pets.
  2. Consider modifications to protect your home from wildfire, wind, and rising water. Review insurance coverage - particularly flood insurance, which often must be purchased separately.
  3. Learn about community emergency plans. How will your child's school react? What about plans at work? What will you do if bridges or major roadways are closed?