Creating a Family Disaster Plan
There are four steps to creating a plan for you and your family to be prepared in the event of a disaster:
1. Talk with your family about what could happen
2. Create a disaster plan
3. Complete an emergency checklist
4. Practice and maintain your plan
1. Talk with your family about what could happen.
Know what types of disasters are likely to occur in your area.
Tennessee's natural hazards include droughts, earthquakes, floods, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, wildfires, and occasional winter storms. Learn about your community’s warning signals, such as tornado sirens.
If you have pets, ask your local emergency management office about animal care after a disaster. Also inquire about how to handle any family members with special needs. Find out about disaster plans at school, daycare, work, etc.
Disasters are very traumatic for children. Children like a routine and when this is disrupted, they become anxious —
they follow your lead. Be mindful that after a disaster, children are afraid that:
• the event will happen again
• a loved one will be injured or killed
• they will be separated from their family
• they will be left alone
2. Create the plan.
Work as a team. Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur and outline a response plan for each type of disaster.
Pick two places to meet with family. One outside your home (in case of fire). One outside your neighborhood (in case you are unable to return home).
Discuss a plan of evacuation for your home. Include two escape routes out of every room in the house. Discuss and decide on the best escape routes from your neighborhood.
Assign an out of state “family contact”. Include a plan for the care of your pets. Find out what hotels take pets.
3. Complete an emergency checklist.
Responsible family members should know:
• the location and procedure for turning off utilities
including electricity, gas, and water
• where and how to use a fire extinguisher correctly
• how to check and replace smoke detector batteries.
Post emergency telephone numbers next to telephones.
Teach family members how and when to call 911. Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster. Check your insurance coverage.
Family members should take a first aid and CPR class, conduct a “home hazard hunt”, s tock emergency supplies, and assemble disaster supply kits.
4. Practice and maintain your plan.
Quiz family members every 4-6 months so they remember what to do in a disaster situation. Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
Replace stored water every 3 months. Replace stored food every 6 months.
Test and recharge your fire extinguisher according to manufacturer’s instructions. Test your smoke detectors monthly. Change smoke detector battery yearly.
Meet with neighbors to plan how everyone can work together after a disaster until help arrives. Introduce the topic of disaster preparedness at a neighborhood association meeting.
Know the skill set of your neighbors. Know the special needs population of your neighborhood. Make childcare plans in case parents can’t get home.
If disaster strikes:
Stay calm. Activate your plan. Assess for injuries.
Listen for instructions from local authorities on your battery powered radio.
Assess your home for damage.
Sniff for gas leaks.
Call your “family contact”.
Check on neighbors, especially elderly or disabled.
Confine or secure pets.
Shut off damaged utilities.
Check for fire hazards using flashlights, not matches.
If evacuation is necessary:
• Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
• Lock your home.
• Use travel routes outlined by local authorities.
• Post a note telling others when you left and where
you are going.
Disaster Supply Kits
The rule of thumb is to keep enough supplies in your home to meet the needs of each family member for at least three days.
• Water (1 gallon/person)
• Food (ready to eat)
• Eating supplies/utensils
• First aid supplies
• Change of clothing
• Emergency tools (flashlight,
• Special items for infants
• Prescription and non-
• Toilet paper, paper towels
• Liquid soap detergent
• Feminine supplies
• Personal hygiene items
• Plastic garbage bags, ties
(for personal sanitation)
• Plastic bucket with tight lid
• Household chlorine bleach
• Rain gear
• Sturdy shoes or boots
• Important family documents
(will, insurance policies, bank
account numbers, family
records) stored in a water-
proof, portable container
First Aid Kit
You need one for home and one for your car.
It should include:
• Bandages, assorted sizes
• Safety pins, assortment
• Cleansing agent
• Latex gloves (synthetic)
• Sterile gauze pads: 2 & 4 inch
(4-6 of each size)
• Sterile roller bandages: 2 & 3
inch (3 rolls each size)
• Non-prescription drugs
• Tongue blades
• Tube of petroleum jelly
Car Emergency Kit
• Battery powered radio
• First aid kit
• Flashlight and batteries
• Jumper cables
• Bottled water
• High energy snacks
• Tire repair kit