Make a Plan
Family Emergency Plan
Identify an out-of town contact. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has a cell phone, coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. If you have a cell phone, program important people as "ICE" (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to reach someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you listed them as emergency contacts.
Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
Planning to Stay or Go
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the emergency, the first important decision is whether you stay where you are or evacuate. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and available information, including what you are learning here, to determine if there is an immediate danger. In any emergency, local authorities may or may not immediately be able to provide information on what is happening and what you should do.
In the event of an emergency, natural or otherwise, it is important to make sure that your family's basic needs are being met and that they are safe. The most effective way of to do this is to have a plan in place. It's very easy to panic during an emergency; being mentally and physically prepared may help to minimize that feeling of panic and enable you to keep your family calm, cool, collected, and most importantly, safe. An emergency preparedness plan should include a disaster supply kit, as well as any emergency essentials. Emergency preparedness supplies should also be arranged and easily accessible. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance for how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in different situations.
Ready.gov can provide further information on emergency planning, such as the new online family emergency planning tool created to prepare a printable comprehensive family emergency plan.
Public Emergency Plans
You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency. You will be better prepared to safely reunite your family and loved ones during an emergency if you think ahead and communicate with others in advance.