Make a family emergency plan

Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia. 041621. Dan Watson/The Signal
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital in Valencia. 041621. Dan Watson/The Signal

By Patrick Moody

Spokesman for Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital

Do you need a plan?

It’s important for families to have an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes.

Knowing what to do in case of an emergency can help reduce your fear and anxiety—and even keep you out of harm’s way altogether.

Being prepared may also protect you against possible losses or ease the impact of the disaster, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Learn about hazards in your area

Knowing what your risks are is the first step in creating an emergency plan. Here in Southern California we are prone to fires and earthquakes. In addition, learn about potential human-caused disasters — such as hazardous materials incidents or nuclear power emergencies.

Create a family emergency plan

Once you are aware of potential dangers, you can create an effective emergency plan. FEMA suggests that your emergency plan address issues such as:

  • Family communication. All members of your family should memorize the phone number of an out-of-town contact person. Always carry a cellphone to call this person to check in if there is an emergency.
  • Evacuation plans. Local officials will usually provide information about how and where to evacuate in the case of a natural or human-caused disaster. Also, know about local warning services, such as sirens or emergency radio or TV broadcasts.
  • Establish where your family will meet in case of an emergency.
  • Utility safety. You may need to know how to shut off your utilities in the case of an emergency. For instance, all family members should know how to shut off gas service.
  • Some disasters may crack water lines and pollute the water supply, so it’s also important that family members know how to shut off the water.
  • Personal records. Create an inventory of your personal property, and keep your important documents, such as insurance records, property records and identification, somewhere safe, such as a safe-deposit box.
  • Care for pets and livestock. Consider the needs of your pets and livestock when making a disaster plan. Identify shelter and other resources for your animals. Do not leave pets at home in the event of an emergency. Identify an appropriate shelter, such as a hotel or motel that allows you to bring your pets, because many emergency shelters will not accept pets. Contact your local emergency management office or animal shelter for advice.

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