Related Pages
Photo Albums

Article written by Irene Hickey

Life is unpredictable.  Unexpected events such as fire, tornados, and hurricanes occur over which we have no control or power.  They just happen and when they happen there is usually a lot of confusion and panic that goes along with them.  If your family has created a Family Preparedness Plan, then when these unpredictable/unexpected events occur, family members will know what to do and who is doing it.  This isn't a complicated plan that has to be written by an expert and cost money.  Rather, it is a simple plan, which family members know and understand...and it is free.  You, the family, write it, you decide what goes in it, and you decide when to use it.

Let's start with a set of definitions:

Family Preparedness means that the family (regardless of who is in the "family"-whether actually related or not) has   prepared themselves to deal with unexpected or unpredictable situations.  They have answered ahead of time, the five questions of who, what, where, when and how.

Family Preparedness Plan- a documented agreement between family (household) members.  It can consists of one page or many pages.  This is up to the family.  It can be handwritten or typed.  The format and length doesn't matter.  It's the content that is important.

Family- for the purposes of the Family Preparedness Plan, the term family applies to anyone in the, dad, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, grandparents, etc.  It consists of the people you consider covered by the plan, regardless of whether they actually live in the same household (i.e. senior family members in a nursing home or living elsewhere; children living away from home, etc.)

So, how do you prepare a Family Preparedness Plan?  Following is a suggestion list of steps the family should take to put together a plan.  They do not have to be followed in the order written, but all of them should be taken.

1.  Identify who all the "family" members are.  Write down the names.  Remember, this includes senior family members in a nursing home or living elsewhere, children living away from home, etc.  Next to their names, write down whether they live in the household or somewhere else.  Also note if they are a child or an adult.
2.  On this same list, identify any pets that live in the household or that belong to any family members you've put on the list.  If there is an emergency, everyone (including pets) needs to be accounted for or taken care of.

3.  Answer the five questions of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW.

WHO - decide who has responsibility for different task
Who will pick up the kids from shcool if ther is an emergency
Who will pick up or check on senior family members from the hospital/nursing home/apartment, etc.?
Who will call other family members to tell them what's going on? BR>Who will take the pets?
Who will drive the car, if you have to evacuate?

WHAT - decide what things are important that you must take with you, if you have to evacuate:
Medicines Important papers (insurance policies, passport, credit card information, health insurance information, social security card, drivers license, etc.)
Food & Supplies (water, snack foods, flashlights, blankets, etc)
Pets - will you take them or leave them or can they be left someshere else?

WHEN - decide when you will do certain things
When will you evacuate, if the situation calls for it?
When will you pick up the kids from school or day care?

WHERE - decide where you will go
Where will you assemble outside your home if there is a fire (e.g. meet at the corner, or meet at a neighbors home, etc.) ?   
Where will  you assemble inside your home if there is a shelter-in-place need (i.e. tornado warning, or shooter outside)?                  
Where will you meet up with other family members if you have to evacuate (e.g. meet at the high school, or meet at corner of two certain streets, or meet at Uncle Joe's house, etc.)?

HOW -  decide how you will do certain things
How will you communicate with each other if there is no electricity (e.g. cell phone or meet someshere else)?
How do you turn of your power, gas or water?
How will you communicate with anyone living away at school or in another city/state?
How many cars will you take (can everyone fit in one car, or do you need to take more than one)?

Once you've answered all those questions, you're ready to put together your plan.  Have someone write it all down.  Make copies of it and give copies to everyone you've identified.  With children, tell them what you're doing, so they know what is going on..

The federal governmenthas put together a family preparedness template, which you can use.  Go to: and print out the plan template.

Lastly, educate yourselves: (courtesy of and )

Learn where the evacuation shelters are in your neighborhood.
Learn the Houston evacuation routes and which zone you are in.
Learn the disaster plan at your place of work.
Learn the disaster plan at your child's school, including how the school plans to reunite you with your child if disaster strikes during school hours.
Learn the disaster plan for any location where you may have elderly relatives for whom you are responsible (nursing home evacuation plan: hospital evacuation plan,etc.)
Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.

Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.

While this article does not cover everything your family should know or do to be prepared, it will help serve as a step toward preparedness.