A Simple & Easy Way to Create a Family Emergency Plan Today
Voices of Self-Reliance with Nick Meacher
By Nick Meacher, Fortune Favors the Prepared
Preparedness and self-reliance requires planning; you (should) plan based on threats and hazards that are likely to occur in your area. Your plan should be comprehensive and based on your assessment of the likelihood of specific events, your resources, capabilities, training, etc. Once you have your assessment, determine what you are going to buy, to grow, to can, etc.
One area that is most often overlooked is a comprehensive Family Emergency Plan.
The Family Emergency Plan is your written plan and includes:
- Personal Family Information
- Communications Plan
- Triggers and Actions (preparedness conditions – “PREP-CON”)
- Routes and Maps to the everyday places you go such as work, school, other family’s homes, etc.
- Area Assessment that identifies likely threats and hazards in your area
- Emergency Evacuation Checklist
- Contingency Binder
Personal Family Information
The Personal Family Information forms the basic part of your plan. This includes:
- Contact information for each family member, including all phone numbers and other contact information such as ham radio and GMRS call signs, along with home and work addresses with GPS coordinates.
- Out-of-area emergency contacts, in case local communications are not possible but you may be able to call long distance and at least leave a message with a friend or family member.
- Meeting locations – places you all know where you will meet if you cannot communicate with each other. Again, including GPS coordinates as well as a “code name.”
- Places where you plan to leave a message (a “dead drop”) in case you cannot meet, or you have to leave the meeting location. You leave a message there for the other family or group members. This also includes GPS coordinates and a “code name.”
- Addresses, phone numbers and GPS coordinates for all day cares, schools etc. that your children attend.
- Family doctors as well as hospitals, urgent cares and pharmacy’s in your area.
- Family dentists and orthodontists
- Police and fire stations in your area as well as those around or near your work, schools, and along the regular routes you travel.
Your Communications Plan includes such things as Amateur Radio (ham) and GMRS frequencies as well as weather alert frequencies and your local radio stations that include the Integrated Public Alert and Warning (IPAWS) stations.
Your Area Assessment includes an assessment of local threats, such as fuel and gas storage facilities, hazardous chemical plants, bulk storage facilities and anything else that can create a hazard. This includes rail and major highways along which chemicals are transported. Much of this information can be found through your local emergency planning committee or emergency management agency.
Contingency Plan is another annex. This contains your important documents, such as Wills, copies of driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, tax documents, school records and copies of other documents that may be difficult to replace.
In many cases these can be scanned and placed on a USB drive together with the other parts of your plan. Make sure the drive is encrypted and password protected. You should also include a video of your house and property, this is useful for insurance claims.
You should also develop triggers. These are events that will prompt you to take actions. This should include weather events specific to your area, i.e. if there is a tornado, what you are going to do? If there is an emergency warning system the action should include going to a pre-identified place. These trigger events are things that you have discussed with your family so everyone is on the same page and you then include in your plan. You can group these into preparedness conditions, “PREP-CON.”
Maps are an important and often overlooked part of your plan, specifically paper maps. These should include:
- A master map that indicates important locations, including schools, family friends, and your kids friends.
- Route maps, that indicate the routes to work and other frequented locations.
One way to mark these and keep the information somewhat secure is to use ultra-violet pens, which can be found on Amazon.
Emergency Evacuation Checklist
Another part of your plan is your Emergency Evacuation Checklist. This is a list of the items, in order of priority, that are not part of your ‘bug out’ bag that you should grab if time permits. A priority list, which you have developed ahead of time, allows you grab your most important items in an emergency.
Your Get Home Bag checklists are lists of the contents in each person’s bag, to be rotated on a seasonal basis. Copies should remain in each bag.
Once you have your plan you need to make sure that your entire family is familiar with it. Every adult should carry a copy on an USB in their emergency bags. An abbreviated copy with important numbers should be carried by your children who are old enough to understand.
Update your plan periodically, perhaps at the beginning of each school year if you have children in school. Other good times to review and update plans would be just before the start of hurricane or tornado seasons depending, if you are impacted by those threats.
A form fillable format for a Family Emergency Plan, as well as some of the annexes, is available on my web site.