Protecting Your Home and Family from Disasters

As we’ve seen in recent years, disasters can occur at any time and without warning.

To safeguard your home and loved ones, it’s crucial to have a disaster preparedness plan in place. The following steps will help you create a family preparedness plan that can be adapted to any emergency situation.

Assessing Hazards in Your Area

  • Start by identifying the most likely disasters that could occur in your region and researching how to prepare for each one.
  • Get to know your community’s warning signals and emergency response plan, including how to receive alerts via sirens, text messages, or other methods.
  • Consider investing in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio, which broadcasts official weather forecasts, warnings, and advisories 24/7.
  • Locate nearby organizations that offer emergency management services, such as the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and other nonprofits, and keep their contact information handy.
  • Familiarize yourself with the disaster plans in place at your workplace, your children’s school, and other places you and your family frequent.

Conducting a Family Meeting

  • Schedule a family meeting to discuss the importance of disaster preparedness and the potential hazards in your area.
  • Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur and create a step-by-step plan for each situation.
  • Assign tasks and responsibilities to each family member, making sure to emphasize the importance of working together as a team.
  • Identify meeting points both within and outside your neighborhood in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire or earthquake.
  • Decide on a plan of action for evacuating your home and create a detailed family evacuation plan.
  • If a family member is in the military or travels frequently, make sure to plan accordingly for their potential absence during a disaster.
  • Establish a family communication plan in case disaster strikes and document the steps to take in different scenarios.
  • If anyone in your family has special needs or disabilities, adjust your plan accordingly, and don’t forget to include your pets in your preparedness plan.

Secure your household

  • Compile a disaster readiness kit.
  • Determine the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • Figure out the best evacuation routes out of your home.
  • Get trained in basic first aid and CPR.
  • Show each family member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).
  • Take a complete inventory of your home and property.
  • Educate each family member on how to use a fire extinguisher and where to locate one.
  • Post emergency contacts (friends, family, neighbors, police, fire, etc.) in a visible spot.

Rehearse your plan

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

Further resources

  • The American Red Cross offers “How to prepare for emergencies” and training and certification.
  • “Make a plan” from the Ready Campaign.
  • Federal Emergency Management Agency.
  • Professional water damage restoration company: Houston Restore PROS