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How to Create a Severe Weather Emergency Plan for Your Family

March 21, 2013

With work, school, sports and other activities, your family members may not be in the same place when severe weather or another emergency strikes. How will you know where to find your children after a damaging storm? If you’re not home to tell them, would they know what area of the house to go to when a severe weather alert is issued? Why risk assuming everyone knows the answers when you can know for sure by creating a severe weather emergency plan for your family?

Ready.gov has a Family Emergency Plan (FEP) that you can download and fill out. As you create your plan, consider your daily routines and where your family is at different times of the day. Have a plan for work, school and nighttime.

There are lots of helpful tips to consider on the Ready.gov website to develop an emergency plan for your family. A few of the most important are:

  • Having a well-stocked emergency supply kit on hand that is kept where your family can quickly find it

  • Determining your severe weather safe spot like a basement, interior closet or bathroom

  • Deciding on a location to meet if you’re separated

  • Identifying an emergency contact in and out of town (out of town communication is sometimes easier during an emergency due to cellular networks)

  • Taking photos or videos of your home and its contents and keeping them in a separate location such as a safe deposit box or relative’s house

  • Locating and knowing how to operate your home’s gas and water shut-off valves

  • Having emergency cash on hand since running debit and credit cards requires electricity

  • Filling up your gas tank

  • Making sure pets have their tags and vaccinations up to date in case they get out

  • Having a weather alert radio with battery back up power and plenty of batteries on hand

Once your family emergency plan is established, consider the other places your family spends time, like work, school or daycare, and find out if they have an emergency plan. If not, there are school and workplace plans available from the Ready.govwebsite.

Of course, a plan won’t be effective unless you share it and know how to use it. Review your plan with your friends, neighbors and family. Practice it at least twice a year with your children. Show your kids where the emergency supplies are, where to find you, whom to contact and how. Don’t assume they know already. Children often learn better by doing. Make sure they know how important it is to listen to your weather alert radio and take the warnings seriously. Update your emergency plan accordingly when changes arise.

Creating your family’s severe weather emergency plan takes just a few minutes. It’s well worth the effort because having an emergency plan in place means there is a better chance of everyone moving quickly. Knowing exactly what to do and where to go could save lives before, during and after severe weather or other disasters.

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