Have a family planning party and put your plan in writing (download a plan template in English or Spanish), then send it to family and friends. Here’s what to do in the planning stage:

  • Exit Routes. Identify two exit routes from every room in your home. In a disaster, your primary route may be blocked.
  • Hazard hunt. Find items that might fall during an earthquake and secure them. Look for fire hazards, like frayed wires and overloaded outlets, and make them safe.
  • Smoke detectors. Install smoke detectors outside each bedroom of your home. Learn how to test them. Replace the batteries every six months. Keep extra batteries.
  • Fire extinguishers. Keep at least one fire extinguisher in your home, and make an appointment at your local fire station to learn how to use it.
  • Water, gas, & power shut-offs: Know how to shut off your water, power and gas. Do not shut off the gas unless you know a gas line has ruptured or you smell gas. To learn how to shut off of your gas click here. Your local utility will have to turn it back on.
  • Establish two meeting places. Choose two places to meet up after a disaster. One should be near your home, in case of a local emergency like a fire. One should be outside your neighborhood, in case your entire area is affected by a larger disaster.
  • Choose an out-of-state contact. Everyone in your family should have the contact’s phone number, to check in as safe. After a disaster, local phone lines may be down or jammed. It may be easier to make a long distance call than a local one.
  • Landline. Keep a landline with a corded phone, which doesn’t need electricity.
  • ICE. Store emergency contact information in your cell phone under “ICE” for In Case of Emergency.
  • Get Insured. Your residential policy may not cover damage caused by a disaster. In most cases, damage from a flood, earthquake or tsunami is not covered by your homeowners policy. A separate policy is required.
  • Write it Down. Download the American Red Cross Family Disaster Plan PDF Template in English or Spanish. Use the template to record the details of your plan, and email your plan to family and friends.