Make and Practice your Emergency Plan
Each person, business, and family should have a plan in case disaster strikes. You may not have time to prepare before an incident.
Developing and practicing your emergency plan with your family keeps everyone on the same page. The resources below will help you develop your emergency plan.
Plan to Go
Whether for a fire, hurricane, hazardous materials incident, or flood, you may be required to quickly evacuate your home, neighborhood, or the city. Have a plan ahead of time to make sure everyone in your family knows what to do, where to go, and how to get a hold of each other:
- How will you be notified of emergencies?
- Sign up for AlertHouston, and have multiple ways to stay informed about emergenceis in your area.
- What are your family's safe places? Remember, you may not always be home when an emergency occurs. Pick safe places in each of these categories, and have family members write them down for easy reference:
- A safe place, such as a neighbor's house, mailbox, park etc. in your neighborhood in case en emergency occurs in your home.
- A rally point somewhere in another part of the city, in case you are unable to get back to your neighborhood. Consider a family member or friend's house.
- A family member or friend's house outside of the City, in case a catastrophic emergency means you cannot remain in, or return to the City. Make sure everyone has this person's phone number written down as well.
Plan to Stay
- Designate a shelter-in-place room in your home. This should be an interior room with few doors and no windows (like a closet or bathroom). You may be required to shelter-in-place during severe weather, during a hazardous materials incident, or in a law-enforcement situation like an active shooter.
- Make sure you have a Shelter-in-Place kit that has plastic sheeting and duct tape, in case a hazardous chemical emergency requires you to seal yourself in your shelter-in-place room.
Plan to Stay In Touch
- Have multiple ways to get a hold of each other:
- Make sure everyone has written important phone numbers down. If mobile phone batteries die, you may need these written down instead.
- Make sure every family member is "connected" on social media - this might be an easy way to check in on each other.
- Make sure each family member knows how to "text" - oftentimes, when phone lines are down, text messages are able to get through.
- Designate an out-of-town relative or friend to be the "check-in" person. Sometimes, its easier to call or contact someone outside of the area that's been affected by an emergency.
Plan for When You're Away
- Emergencies can happen anytime - so be aware of your surroundings when you're away from home, and be prepared to take action.
- Identify emergency exits when you go to public places, such as malls, community centers, restaurants, shops, and places of worship.
- Instruct children what to do, and where to go if there is an emergency and you become separated.
- Know the emergency plans for your children's school, your workplace, and place of worship. Know what to do if services or business is suspended due to an emergency, and what kind of communication to expect from authorities in those places.
Practice your Plan
Take a moment every year to practice your family's emergency plan. This might include holding a drill that tests:
- How everyone would evacuate your home if there was a fire or other emergency
- How you would get a hold of each other after an emergency.
- What you would do if a hazardous chemical emergency happened and you had to shelter-in-place.
The American Red Cross offers tips on the things you should have as part of your family's emergency plan. You can also download a one-page sheet with a checklist of tips to include as part of your plan.
Ready.gov provides visitors with a downloadable Family Emergency Plan template as well as an online tool for customized emergency plans. Also included are downloadable emergency contact cards for both adults and children to make sure everyone remembers their meeting places and has necessary phone numbers with them at all times.
Download this short guide from the Federal Emergency Management Agency that provides information on how to develop a family disaster plan if you or a member of your family has a disability, functional or access need.