Create a Disaster Plan

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing an Emergency Plan in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility.

How to Make a Plan
Find out what could happen to you. By learning what your risks may be, you can prepare for the disaster most likely to occur in your area. katrina.jpg
  • Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire and severe weather to your children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Keep it simple enough so people can remember the important details, as a disaster is an extremely stressful situation that can create confusion.
  • Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing disasters ahead of time will help reduce fear and anxiety and will help everyone know how to respond.
  • Pick 2 places to meet:
    • Right outside of your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
    • Outside of your neighborhood in case you can’t return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood. Everyone must know the address and phone number of the meeting locations.
  • Develop an emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from 1 another during floods or other disasters. Have a plan for getting back together. Separation is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.
  • Fill out and print a Child's Emergency Contacts card. Put this in your child's backpack, so that they have the information on them, should they get separated and confused.
  • Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be your family contact. Your contact should live outside of your area. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long distance call than a local call. Family members should call the contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone must know the contact’s name, address, and phone number.
  • Discuss what to do if authorities ask you to evacuate. Make arrangements for a place to stay with a friend or relative or check with your church or other local organization, to see if they have a host-a-family program. This is especially important if you live in a manufactured home. Also, learn about shelter locations as a last resort.
  • Be familiar with escape routes. Though we do not recommend relocating long-distance, depending on the type of disaster, it may be necessary to evacuate your home. Plan several escape routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route; some roads may be blocked or put you in further danger.
  • Plan how to take care of your pets. Unless you are absolutely unable, always take your pets with you if you must evacuate. Keep in mind that Sumter County has only 1 pet-friendly shelter (South Sumter High School). For more information on developing a plan for your pets, please visit the Protecting Your Pets page.
Key Questions to Answer When Developing a Planelderly-parents-prepare-for-disaster.bmp
  • Do you have supplies to last for 5 days, if you are without electric and unable to leave your home?
  • How much cash do you keep on hand? (Credit card machines and ATMs may not work after a disaster)
Possible Evacuation:
  • If you must evacuate, do you have reliable transportation?
  • Where will you go in an evacuation?
  • Are you in a flood zone, manufactured home, or have another situation that may force you to evacuate?
Possible Special Needs:
  • If electricity goes out for more than 3 days, can you stay in your home?
  • Do you have durable medical equipment that requires electricity to function?
  • Is your equipment battery operated, and how will you go about recharging the battery?
  • If you're deaf or hard of hearing, do you have a support system to let you know what is going on during a disaster?