Creating an Emergency Plan for Individuals and Families

Emergencies are a concern for all of us. We will feel better if we have a plan and are prepared. Richmond Ready strongly recommends meeting with your family (as defined by you) to discuss Emergency Preparedness and how you will react during an emergency. Remember you may not all be in the same place during an emergency. How will you reconnect and where will you do so? Remember transportation and phone lines will likely be disrupted for a lengthy period of time in an emergency such as an earthquake or storm. A plan is important.

1. Know your risks 
Possible risks in the Northwest include severe weather, power outages, earthquakes, floods, fires, extreme heat, and extreme cold.

2. Create a written plan
Make a master list of family members, emergency contact numbers and include individual recent color photos of everyone in your household, even your pets. Ensure that everyone has a copy. Include the phone numbers and addresses of your workplace, medical providers, schools and care centers where family members may be. Include a list of all medications and dosages for each household member. Ensure that everyone in the family has a copy of the list in their wallet or backpack. Below are a few wallet-sized emergency contact card templates that can help you get started.

3. Out of area contact
Having at least one out of area contact is essential. Discuss with them what you will want them to do if there is an emergency. Call or text the out of area contact if you are separated from your family during an emergency so that they can relay any information to your family members. During an emergency, a text message, email or social media may work best as phone lines may be disabled for a long period of time.

4. Children, elderly and people with ability challenges
Plan for your children or elderly household members. Identify people who could pick them up from school or daycare if you cannot. Notify the school and daycare about the authorized people and provide their contact information. Work with your spouse or partner about who will pick up the children and others.

5. Pets
Can someone get your pets if you cannot? Talk to neighbors. Offer to get their pets. Have their contact information.

6. Escape routes
What are your residence's exit points? Draw a floor plan to show different exits. This visual reminder helps educate all household members. Do you need a ladder to get out?

7. Reunification
Pick a meeting place where you will reunite with your family in the aftermath of an emergency. While your residence is ideal, it’s best to pick a secondary place to meet, such as neighbor's house, library, church, community center or an open area clear of dangers from power and gas lines, in case your residence is not safe.


Following is a list of resources to help you get your personal, family and business plan activated. 

Make Your Plan

Make a Plan (Ready/Department of Homeland Security)
Provides steps and resources to help you plan for your particular household needs.

Do1Thing (for individuals)
Do 1 Thing is a web-based twelve month preparedness program that focuses on a different area of emergency preparedness each month, and provides a range of preparedness options for each topic. Every month has a low or no-cost option to become better prepared.

Safeguarding Your Critical Documents (FEMA)
Helpful checklist to make sure that you have important documents secured. Topics include: Household Identification, financial and legal documentation, medical information, valuables and priceless personal items.

Printable contact cards:

FEMA Family Communication Plan

Red Cross Emergency Contact Card 

Helping Kids Prepare and Cope

For children (videos): Introduction to Emergency Planning & other related videos (FEMA)

For parents: Helping Kids Cope with Disasters

Seniors and People with Disabilities

Seniors (Red Cross)

Seniors (Ready?Homeland Security)

Disaster Safety for People with Disabilities (Red Cross)


Pet Preparedness (Dove Lewis)