Family preparedness plan

Habitat Ready: Disaster preparedness for homeowners

Disasters can strike at any moment, with little notice.

In order to protect your home and family, it is important to be prepared and have a plan in place. The family preparedness plan contains four steps that families should take to be ready for any disaster.

Identify hazards

  • Identify what types of disasters are most likely to happen in your area, and learn about how to prepare for each (See Disaster Preparedness Series: Disaster Information).
  • Learn about your community’s warning system and signals (sirens, text messages, etc.).
  • Consider purchasing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. This radio broadcasts official warnings, watches, advisories, forecasts and other hazards 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
  • Identify local organizations that perform emergency management (Red Cross/Red Crescent, nonprofits, etc.) and know how to contact them.
  • Educate yourself on any disaster plans in place at your workplace, children’s school or other places you and your family spend time.

Hold a family meeting

  • Meet with your family to discuss why it is important to be prepared.
  • Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur, and explain what to do in each situation.
  • Assign responsibilities to each family member, and plan to work together as a team.
  • Decide on locations where you will meet in case a disaster strikes:
    • Outside your home and neighborhood in case of a sudden emergency, such as an earthquake or fire.
    • Outside your city in case you cannot return home.
  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation and create a family evacuation plan.
  • If a family member is in the military or frequently away from home, plan how you will respond if he or she is away when a disaster strikes.
  • Document how your family will communicate if a disaster strikes, and create a family communications plan.
  • If anyone in your family has a disability or special needs, adjust your plan accordingly.
  • Be sure to include your family pets in your plan.

Prepare

  • Assemble a disaster supply kit.
  • Locate safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home.
  • Become trained in first aid and CPR.
  • Show each family member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).
  • Make a complete inventory of your home and property.
  • Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and where to find one.
  • Post emergency contacts (friends, family, neighbors, police, fire, etc.) on the refrigerator. 

Practice your plan

  • Practice your plan with your family on a regular basis (every six months).
  • Check your disaster supply kit every three months.
  • Replace stored water and food every three months.
  • Update any emergency contact info as changes occur.

Additional resources

Family evacuation plan

Because you might not have much time to evacuate when a disaster strikes, it is important to have a plan in place to get your family out of danger quickly and efficiently.

Read more

You can help a family rebuild after a disaster

Families who partner with us rebuild their homes alongside volunteers, pay an affordable mortgage and are grateful for your help.