How to Create a Family Emergency Plan: 6 Vital Steps

the truth is that in todays world the chances of an emergency situation or natural disaster happening is a very real possibility. With that in mind, and assuming you want to be prepared to keep your family safe, check out these 6 vital steps and create a family emergency plan.

How to Create a Family Emergency Plan: 6 Vital Steps

How to Create a Family Emergency Plan: 6 Vital Steps

In an unpredictable world, the importance of having a well-thought-out family emergency plan cannot be overstated. Disasters and emergencies have an uncanny ability to strike when least expected, and it’s during these critical moments that having a plan in place can make all the difference.

The Unexpected Nature of Emergencies

Imagine a scenario where a severe storm knocks out power in your area, leaving you and your family in the dark. Or perhaps a sudden wildfire forces you to evacuate your home with only minutes to spare. These are not far-fetched situations; they are real possibilities that countless families have faced.

The Vital Role of Preparation

Preparation is the key to ensuring the safety and well-being of your loved ones in such situations. A well-crafted family emergency plan is your roadmap to navigate these turbulent times. It provides clarity, direction, and peace of mind when chaos reigns.

In this article, we will explore the seven vital steps to creating a family emergency plan. By following these steps, you’ll not only enhance your family’s resilience but also gain the confidence that comes with knowing you’re prepared for whatever challenges may arise. Let’s dive into the first step: assessing potential risks.

1 – Assessing Potential Risks

Before you can craft a family emergency plan that truly suits your needs, it’s essential to gain a deep understanding of the potential risks and hazards specific to your location. This step is the foundation of preparedness, as it allows you to tailor your plan to the unique challenges you might face.

Why Understanding Local Risks Matters

The significance of comprehending local risks and hazards cannot be overstated. By identifying the types of emergencies that are most likely to affect your area, you can develop a plan that addresses those specific threats, ensuring a more effective response when the unexpected occurs.

Common Types of Emergencies

  1. Natural Disasters: Depending on your location, you may be susceptible to earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, or severe storms.
  2. Power Outages: Grid failures can result from various causes, including severe weather, cyberattacks, or infrastructure issues.
  3. Pandemics: Events like disease outbreaks can disrupt normal life and necessitate specific preparedness measures.
  4. Civil Unrest: Social and political unrest can impact communities, leading to safety concerns.
  5. Technological Failures: These can include failures of essential services such as water supply or transportation.

Research Your Specific Geographic Area

Each region has its unique set of risks. It’s crucial to research and understand the specific threats in your geographic area. Consult local emergency management agencies, meteorological services, or geological surveys for information on historical events and potential risks.

By doing your homework and knowing what you might face, you’re taking the first step toward creating a family emergency plan that is finely tuned to your circumstances. With this understanding, you can move on to the next critical step: establishing a communication strategy.

2 – Communication Strategy

Effective communication is the lifeblood of any successful family emergency plan. When disaster strikes, clear and reliable communication can mean the difference between chaos and coordinated response. In this section, we’ll explore why communication is paramount, how to establish a family communication plan, and key tips for creating a contact list.

The Crucial Role of Communication

During emergencies, information is not just power; it’s survival. Communication serves several critical purposes:

  • Safety: It allows family members to check on each other’s well-being and whereabouts.
  • Coordination: Effective communication ensures everyone is on the same page, preventing confusion.
  • Emergency Services: It enables you to call for help or relay critical information to authorities.
  • Reassurance: Communication provides emotional support, reducing anxiety during crises.

Establishing a Family Communication Plan

  1. Select a Primary Contact: Designate one family member as the primary contact. This person should be out of the immediate area but easily reachable. They’ll serve as a central point for relaying information.
  2. Secondary Contacts: Choose at least two additional contacts, preferably located in different geographic areas. These backups ensure redundancy in case the primary contact is unreachable.
  3. Communication Methods: Identify reliable communication methods such as text messages, phone calls, or social media. Ensure everyone knows how to use these methods.
  4. Meeting Points: Establish designated meeting points where family members can gather if separated. These points should be easily accessible and familiar to all.

Creating a Contact List

  1. Include Vital Information: For each emergency contact, compile essential information such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses.
  2. Medical Information: Note any critical medical conditions or allergies for each family member.
  3. Emergency Services: Include local emergency service numbers and addresses.
  4. Out-of-Area Contacts: List the primary and secondary out-of-area contacts, along with their locations.
  5. Distribution: Ensure every family member has a copy of the contact list. Digital and physical copies can be valuable.

By establishing a clear communication plan and creating a comprehensive contact list, you’re taking significant strides in enhancing your family’s preparedness. The ability to stay connected during emergencies not only ensures everyone’s safety but also brings much-needed reassurance in times of crisis. Next, we’ll delve into creating a reliable evacuation plan.

3 – Evacuation Plan

In times of emergency, having a well-structured evacuation plan can mean the difference between chaos and a safe, coordinated departure. This section will guide you through the process of creating an effective evacuation plan, including details on escape routes, designated meeting places, and the critical need for practicing evacuation drills.

Creating a Clear and Effective Evacuation Plan

  1. Home Assessment: Begin by conducting a thorough assessment of your home. Identify multiple exit points, including doors and windows. Ensure all family members know how to unlock and open them.
  2. Escape Routes: Designate primary and secondary escape routes from your home. Primary routes should be the quickest and safest, while secondary routes serve as backups in case primary exits are blocked.
  3. Meeting Places: Choose two meeting places: one near your home (like a neighbor’s yard or a local landmark) and one further away (like a community center or school). Meeting places provide a central location for reuniting with family members after evacuation.
  4. Communication: Stress the importance of communication during evacuations. Ensure everyone knows how to reach the designated out-of-area contacts and when to do so.
  5. Emergency Supplies: Prepare a “go bag” or emergency kit with essential supplies like food, water, first aid items, and important documents. Keep it easily accessible near an exit.
  6. Pets and Livestock: Plan for the evacuation of pets and livestock. Identify shelters or facilities that can accommodate animals, and ensure you have carriers or crates ready.

The Importance of Practicing Evacuation Drills

Creating an evacuation plan is a significant step, but practice is equally crucial. Regularly conduct evacuation drills with your family to ensure everyone is familiar with the process:

  • Timing: Practice during different times of the day and night to simulate various scenarios.
  • Scenarios: Include scenarios where certain exits are blocked or family members are separated.
  • Safety: Emphasize safety, such as checking for smoke and fire hazards during drills.
  • Communication: Ensure everyone knows how to contact the designated meeting places and out-of-area contacts.

By creating a clear evacuation plan, you provide your family with a structured response to emergencies. This plan helps reduce panic, streamline evacuation efforts, and increase the likelihood of a safe reunion. Remember, practice makes perfect, so regularly rehearse your evacuation plan to ensure readiness when it matters most. In the next section, we’ll explore the critical topic of shelter and supplies.

4 – Shelter and Supplies

When disaster strikes, your family’s safety and well-being hinge on the availability of a secure shelter and essential supplies. In this section, we’ll delve into the significance of a shelter plan, strategies for making your home more disaster-resistant, and a comprehensive checklist of essential supplies and how to store them.

The Significance of a Shelter Plan

A shelter plan is your blueprint for maintaining a safe and secure environment during an emergency. Here’s why it matters:

  1. Protection: It offers protection from external threats such as extreme weather, hazardous materials, or potential dangers associated with evacuating.
  2. Stability: A well-prepared shelter plan helps maintain a sense of stability and routine during uncertain times, especially important for children.
  3. Resource Conservation: It helps conserve vital resources like food, water, and energy, ensuring they last longer.

Making Your Home Disaster-Resistant

  1. Secure Heavy Items: Secure heavy furniture and objects to prevent them from toppling during earthquakes or severe storms.
  2. Fire Safety: Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers, and ensure family members know how to use them.
  3. Reinforce Structures: Consider reinforcing your home’s structure to withstand earthquakes, hurricanes, or tornadoes. This may include securing roofs and windows.

Essential Supplies Checklist

  1. Food: Store non-perishable, ready-to-eat foods that require minimal preparation. Aim for a supply that can sustain your family for at least 72 hours.
  2. Water: Ensure you have a gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Store water in sturdy, airtight containers.
  3. First Aid Kit: Assemble a comprehensive first aid kit that includes bandages, antiseptics, medications, and essential medical supplies.
  4. Flashlights and Batteries: Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries to provide illumination during power outages.
  5. Sanitation Supplies: Include items like hygiene products, toilet paper, and garbage bags for maintaining cleanliness and sanitation.
  6. Blankets and Clothing: Store warm blankets, extra clothing, and sturdy shoes to keep your family comfortable during emergencies.
  7. Communication: Ensure you have battery-powered or hand-crank radios to stay informed about developments and emergency instructions.

Storing Supplies

  • Location: Store supplies in a designated, easily accessible location.
  • Rotation: Regularly check and rotate perishable items to maintain freshness.
  • Containers: Use airtight containers or food-grade buckets for storing food and water.

By having a shelter plan, securing your home against disasters, and maintaining a well-organized supply of essentials, you’re taking significant steps toward ensuring your family’s safety and comfort during emergencies. In the next section, we’ll address special considerations for family members with unique needs.

5 – Special Considerations

In preparing your family emergency plan, it’s crucial to consider the unique needs and requirements of every family member. This section addresses the considerations for those with special requirements, such as children, the elderly, and pets, as well as tips for accommodating medical needs and mobility challenges.


  1. Comfort and Reassurance: In times of crisis, children may feel anxious or scared. Ensure they have comfort items like stuffed animals or favorite toys to provide emotional support.
  2. Special Diets: If your child has dietary restrictions or allergies, stock appropriate foods in your emergency supplies.
  3. Communication: Teach children how to use emergency communication tools and establish a safe meeting point they can easily remember.

The Elderly

  1. Medications: Maintain a supply of essential medications and medical equipment. Regularly check expiration dates.
  2. Mobility Aids: Ensure mobility aids like walkers or wheelchairs are accessible and in working condition.
  3. Medical Records: Keep copies of important medical records, including allergies and medical history, in your emergency kit.


  1. Food and Water: Store an adequate supply of pet food and water. Remember their dishes and a manual can opener if needed.
  2. Carriers and Leashes: Have carriers or crates for small pets and leashes or harnesses for larger animals.
  3. Identification: Ensure pets have proper identification, including tags and microchips, in case they get separated during an evacuation.

Accommodating Medical Needs

  1. Medical Alert System: Consider a medical alert system for individuals with chronic conditions or disabilities.
  2. Emergency Medications: Store a backup supply of necessary medications and medical supplies, including prescriptions and over-the-counter drugs.
  3. Caregivers: If there are family members who require regular caregiving, ensure there is a plan in place for their care during emergencies.

Mobility Challenges

  1. Accessible Evacuation: Plan for accessible evacuation routes and transportation for individuals with mobility challenges.
  2. Emergency Kit Accessibility: Ensure that emergency supplies, including mobility aids like canes or walkers, are easily accessible.
  3. Assistive Devices: If needed, include spare batteries or power sources for electric mobility devices.

By addressing these special considerations, you’ll be better equipped to ensure the safety, comfort, and well-being of every family member during emergencies. Next, we’ll explore the importance of rehearsing and updating your family emergency plan.

6 – Rehearsing and Updating

Creating a family emergency plan is a critical step, but the work doesn’t end there. Regular reviews, updates, and practice are essential to ensuring that your plan remains effective and your family stays prepared. In this section, we’ll emphasize the importance of these ongoing efforts and provide practical guidance on how to keep your plan up-to-date.

The Importance of Regular Plan Reviews and Updates

Emergency situations can change, and your family’s needs may evolve over time. Therefore, it’s vital to periodically revisit your family emergency plan. Here’s why:

  1. Changing Circumstances: Family dynamics change, and so do health conditions and contact information. Regular updates help ensure your plan reflects current realities.
  2. Awareness: Routine plan reviews keep your family members aware of their roles and responsibilities during an emergency.
  3. Resource Assessment: As supplies and equipment age or get used, you’ll want to replenish and replace them as needed.

Creating a Schedule for Emergency Drills

  1. Frequency: Conduct emergency drills at least twice a year. Consider additional drills for specific scenarios (e.g., fire drills).
  2. Variety: Simulate different emergencies to ensure your family knows how to respond to various situations.
  3. Realism: Make drills as realistic as possible. Use alarms or sirens to signal the start of a drill, and practice evacuation routes and meeting points.

Benefits of Involving the Whole Family

  1. Shared Responsibility: Involving every family member in plan maintenance ensures that everyone understands their roles and can support one another during an emergency.
  2. Children’s Education: Including children in drills and updates helps them become more resilient and aware of emergency procedures.
  3. Better Communication: Family involvement fosters open communication about safety concerns and improvements.

A family emergency plan is a living document that requires regular attention. By scheduling plan reviews, conducting practice drills, and involving the entire family, you’ll ensure that your plan remains effective and your loved ones stay well-prepared for whatever challenges may arise. In our next section, we’ll explore the use of herbal and natural remedies when professional medical care is unavailable.


In times of uncertainty and crisis, a well-crafted family emergency plan can be your guiding light. Let’s recap the seven vital steps you’ve learned to create a comprehensive plan that ensures the safety and well-being of your loved ones:

1. Assessing Potential Risks: Understand the unique hazards in your area to tailor your plan effectively.

2. Communication Strategy: Establish clear communication channels and contacts for your family.

3. Evacuation Plan: Create escape routes and designate meeting places for seamless evacuations.

4. Shelter and Supplies: Secure your home, prepare essential supplies, and make your living space disaster-resistant.

5. Special Considerations: Address the unique needs of children, the elderly, pets, and individuals with medical or mobility challenges.

6. Rehearsing and Updating: Regularly review and practice your plan, ensuring it stays current and effective.

Preparedness and planning are the cornerstones of safeguarding your family’s well-being. The world may be unpredictable, but your ability to respond with confidence and resilience can make all the difference when the unexpected occurs.

Remember, the time to act is now. Don’t delay in creating your family emergency plan. Your commitment to preparedness is an investment in your family’s safety and security. Take the first step today and sleep soundly knowing you’re ready for whatever challenges may come your way.

Take a look at more disaster preparedness articles here.

Written by doc cotton

Meet Doc Cotton, your go-to founder of NowShack and a goto for all things adventurous and outdoorsy. With an unwavering passion for van life and a deep connection to the great outdoors, Doc is your trusted guide to exploring the world off the beaten path.

Doc's journey began with a fascination for the freedom and simplicity that van life offers. From there, it was a natural progression to spend countless hours prepping and converting vans into cozy, mobile homes on wheels. Whether it's turning an old van into a comfortable living space or sharing tips on the best gear for outdoor adventures, Doc has you covered.

But Doc Cotton is not just about life on the road; he's also a dedicated student of survival skills. Always eager to learn and share, Doc's insights into wilderness survival and bushcraft are invaluable for anyone looking to connect with nature on a deeper level.