Prepare Your Family for an Emergency


It is important for all family members to know how to react in an emergency, because when disaster strikes, the best protection is knowing what to do. Natural and human disasters can strike suddenly, anytime and anywhere. To best prepare your family, follow these three simple steps: get informed, make a plan and prepare a disaster supply kit.

Get Informed.

Disasters can take many forms. It could be an event that affects an entire community, like a tornado or flood; or an event that only affects your family, such as a home fire or medical emergency. When creating your Family Disaster Plan, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recommends that you contact your American Red Cross chapter or your local emergency management office to learn and share the following with your family:

  • Lean what types of disasters or emergencies are likely to occur in your area.
  • Learn about your community’s warning signals. Know what they sound like and the differences between warnings and watches; and what you should do when you hear them.
  • Identify your community evacuation plans and shelters.
  • Learn where pets can go if they aren’t allowed at a shelter.
  • If applicable, what kind of help is available for children with special needs, the elderly or disabled.
  • Make sure at least one of your family members is trained in first aid and knows CPR. 

Make a plan.

Your family may not be together when an emergency happens. Meet with all family members to review the information gathered above, discuss how to prepare and respond to the emergencies, as well as identify responsibilities and how to work as a team. Explain to young children the dangers of fire and severe weather, without overly alarming them, and what to do in each case. Your Family Disaster Plan should address the following:

  1. Escape Routes and Evacuation Plans
  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room. Post a copy of the escape plan eye level in each child’s room and make sure children understand the drawings. You can use our Family Emergency Plan Template on our website to create your plan.
  • Establish a safe meeting place both inside and outside the home for each type of possible disaster.
  1. Family Communication
  • Post emergency telephone numbers by all phones in the house. (fire, police, ambulance, etc.)
  • Teach children when and how to call 911.
  • Pick an out‐of‐town relative or friend for everyone to check‐in with if you are separated during an emergency.
  • Complete an emergency contact card for each family member to keep handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. You can use our Family Emergency Contact Cards located on our website for all your family members.

Let Your Family and Friends Know You are Safe.

The American Red Cross Safe and Well Website, available through, allows people within a disaster‐affected area to register themselves as “safe and well”. Concerned family and friends can search for posted messages by those who selfregister by knowing the person’s phone number or address. You can also call 1‐866‐GET‐INFO to register yourself and family if you do not have internet access.

  1. Utility Shut‐Off
  • In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home. Make sure all family members know when and how to turn off the utilities.
  • Contact your local utility companies for information on proper utility shut off directions and requirements. The following are some tips regarding utilities:







  • Natural Gas: If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can. If you turn the gas off for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.
  • Water: Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.
  • Electricity: Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. Teach all household members where and how to safely shut off the electricity circuits/breaker
    1. Safety Skills
    • Make sure at least one of your family members is trained in first aid and knows CPR.
    • Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher, and where it is kept.
    • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
    • Conduct a home hazard hunt for items that can fall, break, or cause a fire in an emergency.
    1. Practice, Practice, Practice
    • Practice your Family Disaster Plan every six months.
    • Test smoke detectors monthly, and change the batteries at least once a year.
    • Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
    • Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
    • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions (if they are rechargeable).

    Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit. 

    If a disaster strikes your community, you may not have access to food, water, or electricity for hours and sometimes days. Take time now to prepare, so you can provide for your family later. When preparing your kit, include enough supplies to last up to three days, and consider maintaining a two‐week supply. Keep supplies in easy‐tocarry containers that you can use at home or take with you in case you are evacuated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends using the list below as a guide when preparing your Disaster Supply Kit:

    • Water: one gallon per person, per day
    • Non‐perishable food: three day supply for each person
    • Medications:7 day supply along copy of prescriptions
    • Several Flashlights and extra batteries
    • Portable, battery‐powered radio/television and batteries
    • First aid kit and matches in waterproof bag
    • Multi‐purpose tools/Kitchen Accessories
    • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
    • Family and emergency contact Information
    • Extra cash and copies of credit cards
    • Cell phone with charger
    • Map(s) of the area; along with a compass, tent and shovel
    • Blanket or sleeping bag for each family member
    • One complete change of clothing and shoes for each person
    • Entertainment for family, children and pets (games, books, stuffed animals and favorite dolls or toys for small children)
    • Copies of personal documents (birth certificates, insurance policies, proof of address, bank account information, etc.)
    • Any special items for infants, seniors and pets 

    Sources: Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 

    These are just a few things you can do to prepare your family for an emergency. Please visit or and click on “Family Safety and Legal Tips,” to see our latest safety videos and downloadable materials, and to register for Free Safety Alerts. 

    Prepare Your Family for an Emergency is presented by Georgia Injury Attorneys, Montlick & Associates.

    For over 23 years, Montlick & Associates, Attorneys at Law has been providing parents with important information to help keep your family safe. And when a disaster strikes, we want you to be prepared. Follow the tips above to make your Family Disaster Plan and Kit. Be sure to download and practice the Family Emergency Plan Template and use the Family Emergency Contact Cards provided by Georgia Injury Attorneys Montlick & Associates. Natural and human disasters can strike suddenly, anytime and anywhere. Protect your family by being prepared!