1. Health

10 Disaster Plan Tips


Updated October 28, 2012

No one can predict exactly when and where a disaster will strike, but you can make contingency plans in the event a disaster strikes in your area. Having a plan, as well as a disaster kit, can make riding out a disaster easier on you, your loved ones, and pets.

Have a Point of Contact

It is very important to have a point of contact during a disaster. The contact should be a person who doesn't live in your immediate area and are less likely to be affected by the same disaster as you are. The contact will provide information to other family members and friends who want inquire about your status.

Additionally, individuals may register in the U.S. with the National Emergency Family Registry and Locator System. To register with NEFRLS, or if you wish to find out about someone's status, call 1-800-588-9822 or visit https://egateway.fema.gov/inter/nefrls/home.htm.

Transportation Plan

The disabled need to have a transportation plan if they are unable to drive themselves during a disaster or mandatory evacuation. It is important to notify the local fire department that transportation assistance is needed, should a disaster occur. During an evacuation, public transportation may be non-existent, as well as taxi services. When possible have an alternate transportation plan, such as a nearby caregiver, friend or neighbor, who can provide transportation during an emergency.

Plan for Service Animals and Pets

Pets and service animals need assistance during disasters as well. While not all emergencies require an evacuation, food and water is always needed for the care of animals. It is important to have a supply of their favorite food, snacks and water. In addition they will need bowls, leash and collar, a favorite toy and a pet carrier.

When possible, keep a copy of your pet or service animal's health and shot record along with other important papers in your disaster kit.

Keep in mind that most pet shelters will not take any additional animals during an emergency, especially if they are in the path of an oncoming disaster.

Accommodation Plan

Some disasters can be ridden out at home, while others require a mandatory evacuation. When an evacuation is imminent, call ahead to make a reservation at a hotel out of harm's way. Regional hotels fill up quickly during mass evacuations and a reservation may save you time and energy if you're searching for a place to stay.

A disaster kit can help you be comfortable if you will be staying in a local shelter during an emergency. Your kit should include a comfortable sleeping bag and pillow.

Food and Water Supply

The amount of food you need depends upon how many people are in your group, as well as that of any pets or service animals. Each person and animal will need two to three 8-ounce bottles of water per day. People will need 3 meals per day, with a snack or two if desired. Animals diets vary, but they will need a similar amount of water.

Plan to have three to five days worth of food and water stored at a minimum. Some emergencies last longer, however help is usually available within that time frame.


Managing finances is important during an emergency. Cash is necessary because it can be used to buy food, gas and other amenities and services. In the event of a power outage, getting money out of an ATM or using a credit card will be impossible. How much you need will vary depending on your lifestyle. Plan on having several hundred dollars on hand to pay for food and lodging that may be needed for three to five days.

Prescription Medications

Before an evacuation, gather all prescription medications in their original bottles and place them in a zippered plastic bag. This can help you get prescription refills more easily should you be unable to return to your home town for an extended period of time. If you have medications that require refrigeration, place them inside a zippered plastic bag, then inside of a cooler with either ice or ice packs so they are ready for travel.

Important Documents

Certain papers may be important to have in the event of an evacuation. These papers include insurance policies, prescriptions, bank accounts and other financial items (i.e. Savings Bonds), health records and health/shot records for pets and service animals.

Cell Phone

Being able to call your point of contact, as well as other individuals during an emergency, can help to alleviate stress. While many people have cell phones, some individuals who live in "dead zones" may not. Purchase an inexpensive "pay as you go" cell phone, as well as a prepaid minutes card to use in the event of an emergency, and place it in your disaster kit.

Disaster Kit

Some individuals live in disaster-prone areas that have frequent earthquakes, hurricanes or tornadoes, for example. If you live in one of these areas, having a disaster kit ready to go can make things easy should an emergency arise.

A disaster kit should include the following:

  • A list of phone numbers of friends and family members
  • A list of doctors that you receive care from
  • A list of medications that you are taking, including the dosages and who prescribed them
  • A pill box filled with one week of medications
  • A list of credit card numbers and bank account numbers
  • A sum of cash that would provide for your meals, fuel and lodging for at least one week
  • Flashlight or crank flashlight
  • Extra batteries if not using a crank flashlight
  • One change of clothes for yourself; include clothing for other family members if needed
  • A cell phone - include a prepaid phone card if using a pay-as-you-go phone
  • An emergency radio - the crank type is preferred as it will work without batteries or electricity
  • A travel pillow and blanket
  • Bottled water for one week - a case should be sufficient for one person
  • Travel sized items such as deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, soap and toothbrushes
  • A water-tight bucket with lid to hold the kit items

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