Emergency Plan For Family, Friends and Pets In A Disaster

Emergency Plan for you, your family, friends and pet

Have you got an emergency plan that will help you and your family, friends and pet if a disaster happens? If you are new to prepping, or a little lost on how to set up a family-effective failsafe plan then read on and follow these simple steps to get yourself ready for a possible disaster in your area.

An emergency plan for what?

Prior preparation prevents poor performance – it is a saying I have lived off my whole life. But when it comes to prepping and the safety of yourself and your family and friends, it’s not just a poor performance, it is the health and safety of the ones you care about – and that is second-to-none.

You have probably ended up here because you have the idea in the back of your mind that you need to get ready for an emergency or disaster – don’t worry, you are definitely not alone. When I say an emergency or disaster, I mean those terms loosely because they really do encapsulate a whole lot of different scenarios that could and have happened. We are faced with an endless list of disasters and emergencies and it is no easy task trying to make an emergency plan for them all.

Emergency plan for disasters

San Diego flooding in 2016. Source: AP

If you are thinking to yourself: ‘what could possibly happen?’, well here’s a few that are at the forefront of a lot of concerned preppers. Oh, and no, you’re not going to see a zombie outbreak on this list, we will stick to the most likely options:

And that’s only a brief list, if you’ve seen anything of the prepping community so far, there’s much more. But this is a basic list of ones you are probably well aware of. And to be honest, none of these really seem unreasonable. In fact, if we look back in history every single one of those events has occurred before.

It would make sense to have a plan on the off-chance one of those events happened again, whether it be across the world or just in your geographic area, right? And making that plan is the first step to preparing your safety. A survey shows that nearly 65-per-cent of Americans have inadequate plans and supplies for a disaster, this is why you are seeing so much in the prepping seen more recently, because you need to make your own preparations if you are going to be adequately prepared for a disaster.

For your convenience, if you want to jump ahead to any areas, use this menu to scroll down to that section on the page. You can also view our easy-to-use infographic.

Step 1: Speak to the people you live with about a plan

Step 2: Stock up on the goods to survive

Step 3: Get your family and friends team sorted

Step 4: Practice and adjust

So how do you get started with the preparations for our back-up emergency plan? The first part is easy, and it can be fun too. It’s just talking with your friends and family and exploring your options.

Step 1: Speak to the people you live with about a plan

Everyone has someone, and to be honest, if you’re going to make a good plan, everyone needs someone. Whether it be your family, your partner, your housemate, child or even your dog, talk to them about your plans. Okay, so maybe the chat with your dog is going to be a bit difficult, but you get what I mean.

Plan your emergency plan with people you live with

Start talking to your friends and family about your emergency plan

There are some things you need to think about with your team. The US Government devised a four step approach that any household should think about when making an emergency backup plan, they are:

  • Where can you get emergency alerts and warnings
  • What is my shelter plan?
  • What is my evacuation route?
  • What is my family/household communication plan?

Let’s see how you can start yours.

Public Alerts and Emergency Warning Systems

Familiarise yourself with your area’s public alert and warning system, or Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). These are alerts sent by state and local safety departments, most countries would have these and are readily accessible. Here are a few:

  1. United States
  2. Canada
  3. Australia
  4. United Kingdom
  5. Netherlands

Where is your nearest suitable shelter?

Find out about your nearest suitable shelter. Remember that the type of shelter depends on the circumstance you are preparing for, so you should get to know a few of them. During a tornado, or extreme weather your stay in a shelter could be quite a brief period before you and your dog, or family is home safe. But when it comes to something like a nuclear attack, you are going to be waiting a lot longer and in a different type of shelter. So make a list of those nearby ones and their variations.

Sometimes these shelters might not have enough supplies for yourself and your company, and this is by no means at fault of the emergency service provider. These things happen and that’s life. But you can be ahead of the pack already and plan an emergency kit to take with you. The contents of this would be food, water, medicine and a maybe even a deck of cards in a bag to take with you when you go to a shelter, or just out of town in advanced warning of a storm or wild weather warning.

Plan for disaster

A shelter like this is not going to help very much

There are certain disasters where it may be safer to stay put in your own home, or wherever you are. You might be trapped in a flood, or it might be too late to leave your home and the travel might be unsafe, no problem, these are the things we need to take into consideration when making an emergency plan. In Step 2 we talk about what things you might need to survive at home when this sort of emergency happens.

An emergency could mean you need to take extra care in your home. One emergency could be a flood where it might be suitable to lay out some sandbags in any entrances into your house and block doorways up to stop water from coming in. Another event could be where an attack has caused a spread of hazardous substances in the air. In this circumstance, you are going to have to take some different precautions. There are different shelters where residing from a nuclear fallout is safe, In an emergency where a nuclear, biological or chemical attack has been made you are going to have to seal the room in order to ensure your survival and that of anyone with you.

For a nuclear attack, ideally your shelter should be in the basement of a brick or concrete building.

Where to hide in a nuclear attack

Infographic from EPA on the best place to hide in a nuclear attack

To seal a room off from any type of contamination the US Government Ready Plan provides a process of sealing a room. If you are going to seal a room you should:

  • Bring your four legged family members inside
  • Lock all doors and close any windows or vents leading to the outside
  • Turn off all fans, air conditioner, and heaters
  • Remember that emergency food, water and medical kit I mentioned? Grab it, but only if it hasn’t been contaminated
  • If the room has four walls, stay in it. You want to be in a room with as few windows as possible
  • Use 2-4mm thick plastic sheet over all windows, doors and vents and use duct tape to seal it off
  • Once you have done all of that, sit tight and listen out for any information from authorities on whatever means you have. This would be phone, radio (hand crank if you are without power), internet or television.

When you are planning your kit, it is a good idea to keep an excess amount of these thick plastic sheets and duct tape mentioned above as it will become your tool kit when you are preparing against such circumstances.

If you are in a country that has a high nuclear threat risk, or any other chemical weapon threat, you should look at buying a NBC gas mask with a 40mm Nato filter, a tyvec suit and iOSAT tablets.

Planning an evacuation

When you’re strategizing for survival with your family or friends, or dog, think about what your best evacuation plan might be.

Your evacuation plan may differ depending on what the circumstance may be. Just like in the last scenario, if the air is

contaminated you’re going to want to seal yourself off from contamination. Most warning systems are very advanced and will give you some time to make preparations in your home, or get to safety, so your plan should consist of things you will do for and during an evacuation. For instance, you should be:

  • Looking for several places you can go to in an emergency. This could be at a friend’s place in another area or a hotel
  • If you have a pet, make sure it’s a place where they are as welcome as you are. Some shelters do not allow pets
  • Plan a travel route to your evacuation place for travel by car or on foot, if possible
  • If your family is apart during the evacuation, make sure everyone knows where to go to meet up with you
  • Keep a full tank of fuel before a disaster might happen, for instance, if there is indication of a serious weather report, stock up on some emergency fuel so that you don’t have to stop by a fuel pump during an evacuation
  • Keep your emergency food, water and medical kit in the car

During an evacuation

When it is time to evacuate, there is always a lot of stress and panic and that is completely human. But if you are prepared then you are a step ahead of a lot of others and you will feel much happier that you have some things already in place.

Oregon fires - 2016

Fires like these in Oregon can cause whole towns to evacuate in a rush, so plan your routes out

In an evacuation make sure you secure your home and unplug electrical devices. You should leave a note for anyone coming back to the house looking for you in case they cannot get in touch with you and try to get in touch with them to let them know where you are seeking shelter. A good idea might also be to see if your neighbour needs a lift with you to the nearest shelter.

When you are driving through a storm or flood, keep the radio on and listen for any flooding reports as roads along your route may be closed or blocked.

Step 2: Stock up on the goods to survive

Talk to your team about what everyone needs to survive. Your children might need certain medication, or your pet might need medication too. Make sure you stock up on a small supply of all of those essentials (only if it stays within its expiration date).

Food and water

For food and water, an amicable reserve in the house is a one-week supply, even a three-day reserve is more than what a lot of other Food in an emergencypeople, so do what you can. Prepping a reserve of food is quite easy and doesn’t need too much overthought. You have been feeding yourself for quite some time, a little extra is not rocket science. The type of foods you need to get are non-perishable foods, I can recommend some foods, but primarily, pick foods that you and your family or friends would actually eat. There is nothing worse than being caught in a flood for three days with only 50 cans of beans that you found at a special price.

Some ideas for you could be:

  • Anything canned such as fruits, meats or vegetables
  • Fruit, energy and protein bars
  • Dried fruits
  • Long-lasting milk and cereal or muesli
  • And hundreds of other foods

For water, the average person uses two gallons per day. You can easily stock water in bottles that you buy off the shelf, they are always very cheap and last for an indefinite period.

Build your own emergency kit

This is a very popular area for preppers and survivalists. For these disasters, and in most real situations, this is most of the emergency essentials you are going to need, this list is also in line with what FEMA recommends as an emergency kit. Just remember, you are not preparing for a zombie attack, so there’s no need to have three guns and two axes with your bag.

Here’s what you should have in your basic disaster supplies kit:

  • Water: most of the shelters you go to, or evacuation place will have water, but I recommend the average person uses from 1 – 2 gallons per person, per day. You should have enough for three days.
  • Food: three days of non-perishable food
  • Infant formula and diapers (if you have a little one)
  • Hand crank radio (American Red Cross is a great brand and is what I use)
  • Flashlight/headlamp with extra batteries
  • First aid kit: should have extra glasses if you need them, extra disposable dust masks
  • Whistle
  • A dust mask. If you are in a nuclear/chemical strike zone, an NBC mask and filter is needed.
  • Plastic sheeting to seal off a room from contaminants as mentioned above
  • Multitool with a knife and can opener
  • Local maps – free from here
  • Extra charger for your cell phone and an external battery (the Red Cross hand crank radio has a usb charger)
  • Sleeping bag or just a warm blanket for each person
  • Cups, eating utensils
  • Paper and pencil
  • Monopoly (or other favourite board game) and perhaps a game for the kids

Build a kit for your four-legged friend

Your dog or cat can be a survivor too, so you should make sure they have they own emergency kit so that they can be just as safe right with you. Here’s a small checklist for what you can pack for a pet emergency kit:

  • Food (3 days)
  • Water (3 days)
  • Any medicine your pet takes
  • Pet first aid kit – flea and tick prevention, gloves, cotton buds, antibiotic ointment
  • Collar with ID tag, leash and harness if needed
  • A crate or pet carrier
  • Registration papers
  • Contact details of your vet
  • Any litter requirements for cats or a few bags for dog droppings
  • A picture of your pet for identification
  • And during an evacuation it would be good to grab a familiar item of theirs like a blanket or favourite toy
  • If your dog is a little bit bigger, try one of these dog backpacks so that they can carry some of their own kit.

Step 3: Get your family and friends team sorted

Prepping and emergency plan

In a disaster, a text will be better than a call

This is one that I don’t see enough of when it comes to prepping sites and survival sites, it seems as if no-one has family members. I do have family, and no matter where I am in the world, I couldn’t stand without knowing if they were safe during a disaster or emergency event. I am going to assume you care just as much about yours, so this is something you can write up with whoever is in your team.

  1. Write down a list on paper of the contact information of your family, friends, doctors and nearby school and emergency service providers
  2. Give a copy of this list to everyone you would want to stay in touch with in a disaster and make sure they keep it in their wallet or purse and keep a few in the house and the car as well
  3. Make sure your kids are aware of where to go if there is a disaster. It is important to know that your children know what to do in an event like this and this contact card is also something a teacher could use to call you if they need picking up immediately.
  4. When you are contacting in an emergency or disaster, an sms is more likely ot get through than a call so keep that in mind.

Contact cards

Use laminated contact cards with the phone numbers of your family and a few close friends on it, on the other side keep a picture of your immediate family on it. In the case of a disaster where you might get separated and are at a community shelter, having a photo of your child or partner is a great way to show someone and find them easily. It works a lot better than just a description of what someone looks like.

If you want a pre-made contact card form, the American Red Cross has a great emergency contact card that you can download for you and your family to use.

Build an emergency kit with your kids

Your children might understand a bit more about survival and emergencies if they’re involved in the process, so build an emergency kit with them.

Step 4: Practice and adjust

It never hurts to give a plan a run through a few times just to see if you have everything organised. Even if it is just at the table over dinner or on a weekend outing, everyone should communicate their knowledge on what to do when a flood occurs, a wildfire or a nuclear attack. If you have children, they can also educate you a bit, as most schools undergo some emergency training regularly. Most of these are fire drills, however in some areas there are active shooter drills, and what to do in an earthquake or other disasters.

I know a few families who run through a game once a month of what to do in the event of a disaster. It works and it isn’t a bad idea to go through at all, especially if it could keep a family together and safe one day.

All of this information is made for that sole purpose, to have a failsafe emergency plan to ensure you and your family get through a natural disaster or any other emergency-related event easier through adequate prior preparation. Don’t get me wrong though, even if you are prepared, it’s not easy and if an event does happen it will be stressful. Just ask some of the people who have already been preppers and have had to use their back-up plans in floods, wildfires and mass evacuations. All I can say is these types of disasters really do happen, so you need to prepare for it. That is without a doubt.

If you know anyone with a family, or on their own for that matter, who lives in an area that may be susceptible to a disaster or emergency event, share this emergency plan with them so that they can see how simple it is to make preparations for something so important: life and safety.

Infographic on emergency plan for disasters

1 Comment

  1. Jane MC

    August 24, 2017 at 11:48 am

    Thanks for this, I live on my own with my daughter and dog and have regular floodings and severe storms in my area. I am lucky over some others though as here in Australia we have very good warning systems so it’s easy for me to get my girl, my dog and our supplies and leave for a week or so.

    I couldn’t imagine how stressful it would be if there was a short amount of warning.

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