Getting prepared before disaster strikes.

Each season carries its own risk of natural disasters: blizzards, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes and more. It’s always important to have a plan to put in action if your family is caught in the midst of such disasters. Once you have the necessary supplies and have taken the time to prepare, you and your family will have a much better chance of keeping out of harm’s way.

Planning the Family for Emergencies

There are many steps to take to ensure your family will be prepared for an emergency. First, establish a point of contact that lives outside of your area that family members can notify when they’re safe. If there is a power outage in your area, it can be difficult for your family to get in touch with one another–updating someone who can relay messages outside a disaster zone can often be easier in those cases.

Speaking of phones, let every member of the family have a cell phone, and be sure to include a designated ICE (“In Case of Emergency”) contact on the phone. Note that in times of disaster, cell networks can become disrupted and unreliable. If the network is jammed, use SMS text messaging, which often works when voice calls will not.

Stay alert to possible threats by subscribing to alert services. This includes amber alerts as well as weather emergency alerts. This way you will be sure to receive warnings for any possible emergencies, and may then take proper preparations or assess risks ahead of time.

If you have children, contact your school district to learn what the policy is on student releases in emergencies. This helps to plan how to respond if an emergency happens while children are in school.

In your home, make sure every member of the family knows how to turn off utilities should disaster strike. Replace smoke detector batteries when they become drained, and always have extra batteries for important supplies (more on those below). If you have a garden, tame trees and shrubs so they don’t interfere with power lines. 

Putting Together an Emergency Kit

It’s important to have an emergency kit in your home, and for everyone in the family to know where it can be found. An emergency kit can be stored in a safe box somewhere on the property, or stored in the trunk of your car. Here are supplies you’ll want to keep in yours:

  • A gallon of water per person, per day
  • 3-day supply of nonperishable food (and can opener, if one will be needed)
  • Battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle, for signaling help
  • Baby supplies, such as diapers or formula, if there is a baby in the family
  • Moist towelettes for sanitary purposes
  • Dust masks for breathing

Other Supplies to Have On-hand

In addition to basic supplies, it’s good to have some other supplies for comfort–and chances are, your family already has some of these supplies. Make sure you know where these materials are if you have them, as they can make a difference!

  • Rain gear
  • Disposable utensils, cups and plates
  • A tent
  • Signal flares
  • Household chlorine bleach (unscented, with no additives): this can work as a disinfectant when diluted with water, and can be used to treat water in a pinch.
  • Copies of important documents: leave these in a waterproof and/or fireproof box.

The information in this post was adapted from info found at To help organize your supplies and prepare for emergency, use this handy, printable form from the agency.