Make a Plan

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You and your family members may not be in the same place when an emergency happens. It is important to plan ahead and talk about what you will do before, during and after an emergency. You need to talk about how will you get to a safe place, get in touch with each other and get back to each other.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you should make advance plans to stay with family or friends who live in a safe place, or at a hotel.  Staying at a shelter with a large number of other people is not a good option duing the pandemic.
Shelters should be considered only if you have no other options.

Download the Family Emergency Plan

Your plan should contain:

  • Phone numbers of a pre-assigned contact person for family members to call
  • Where to find information on shelters (television, radio, this website)
  • How to be safe if you stay in your home during an emergency
  • What to do with your pets
  • Thoughts about any older adults or those with functional needs in the home

Mold your plans for your family’s needs. Think about creating a group of neighbors, friends or family to help each other in emergencies. Talk how that group can help each other connect, care for children, pets or other needs.

Knowing how you will respond to an emergency at home, school or work will help you remain calm, think clearly and react well.

Being ready helps you and your family. It also lowers the workload of fire fighters, police and emergency medical workers.



Think about how you will talk and connect with your family after an emergency. You need to plan for different ways to get in touch with family members as decided by the type of emergency. Fill out a contact card for each family member to keep with them. This card can go in a purse, wallet or backpack. 

Check with your children’s school or daycare to learn more about their emergency plans.

Identify an out-of-state contact, since it may be easier to make long-distance calls during an emergency. That person can help keep track of all family members. Be sure everyone knows the contact name and numbers.

Have an “In Case of Emergency” contact listed in your cell phone. Emergency personnel will often check ICE listings to get in touch with someone you know.

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Water, electricity and gas are key services in your day-to-day life. However, these services can also cause special problems during an emergency.

Learn ahead of time how to turn off the water, gas and electricity safely. Do NOT try to turn the gas back on yourself. Always call a trained expert.

Click here for more utility safety tips.

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Emergencies can cause a lot of damage that needs to be fixed. This can cost a lot of money. You need to plan ahead for possible costs to make repairs. Planning ahead can save your family time and money after an emergency.

Collect copies of key papers and records. Keep them in both a safety deposit box and waterproof container with your emergency kit. Having these papers in one place will help if you need to sign up with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Be sure to have copies of:

  • Birth certificate/adoption certificates
  • Marriage license/divorce papers
  • Social security cards
  • Passport/Green card
  • Will
  • Insurance Policies (home, auto, life, health, etc.)
  • Bank Statements

Complete an Emergency Financial First Aid Kit. Keep it in your kit.

Keep a small amount of cash or travelers checks in your emergency kit. Cash machines may not be working after an emergency.

Take photos or video of your personal belongings for insurance reasons. Look over your property, health and life insurance policies to make sure you have proper coverage. You need to find out if you are in a flood zone. If you are, think about buying flood insurance.

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