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3 Things Every Family Must Do to Prepare for a Disaster

September 4, 2018
Published in: Emergency

Group of volunteers ready to start work on a damaged house

The power goes out during a thunderstorm, or roads are blocked from a winter storm – most of the time these are nothing more than minor inconveniences. But what if your power was out for weeks, or a winter blizzard left you stranded in your home for an unknown amount of time? Whether a natural occurrence, illness, or a manmade threat, a disaster can strike when you least expect it. Being prepared is essential to keep your family safe. This easy 3-step list gives you key actions to prepare your family for a disaster.

1. Prepare to Prepare

Debris in a flooded riverBefore you get started, do some research on what disasters are likely in your area. This will give you a better idea of what supplies you need and how to plan for each type of disaster. Make sure to sign up for emergency alerts and know the local public safety communication channels. Common risks to consider are:

  • Chemical Emergencies
  • Contagious Illness
  • Droughts
  • Earthquakes
  • Fires
  • Floods
  • Food Safety
  • Heat Waves/Winter Storms
  • Highway Safety
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslides
  • Poisoning
  • Poser Outages
  • Terrorism
  • Thunderstorms
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Water Safety
  • Wildfires

2. Know Where to Go

Fireman spraying a structure fireInvolve the entire family in creating and practicing a disaster exit plan for:


  • Know the evacuation routes near your home. Check with local public safety authorities about how evacuations work in your area.
  • Decide where you'll go after the evacuation - a friend or relatives house, or a Red Cross Shelter.

Threats at Home

  • Know all the possible exits from your home in case of an emergency like a fire.
  • Have children draw a map of where to go and keep it posted in their room.
  • Choose a close location near your home to meet up after you escape. Have a backup location a bit further from your home in case the disaster is widespread.
  • Know how to shut off water, gas, and electric.

Separated During a Disaster

  • Identify an out-of-state contact that all family members will call to report their status. Out-of-state calls are more likely to go through during a disaster.
  • Choose a location outside your neighborhood to meet in case your home and surrounding areas are no longer safe.
  • Consider wearing emergency bracelets or carrying safety cards that list vital information, especially if you have children or family members with a disability.

3. Safety Kit Can Mean Survival

First aid supplies spread out on a tableIt's time to gear up and create a safety kit with supplies. You should have:

Food and Water

  • At least a 3-day supply of food and water for each family member including pets.
  • Manual can opener and basic utensils.

Medical Supplies​

  • At least a 3-day supply of medications and essential medical supplies like syringes, extra batteries for hearing-aids, or contacts and glasses.
  • Include hygiene items like soap and washcloth, toothbrush and toothpaste, baby wipes, and feminine hygiene supplies. These items help prevent the spread of disease.

Safety Supplies

  • A basic first aid kit
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Emergency blankets
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Whistle

Hand of person pointing at a mapCommunication

  • Battery powered, solar powered, or a hand crank radio with extra batteries
  • Cell phones and chargers


  • Maps of the area
  • Extra gas stored in safe containers
  • Extra car and house keys
  • Extra cash


  • An I.D. with your current information like a driver's license or a school I.D. card
  • Copies of important documents like insurance cards
  • Medical records or important health documents
  • Always keep several copies of your emergency plans. Make sure friends or family have copies too.

Remember to store your safety items in a secure and easy to transport container! Make sure to also keep safety kits in your car and at work.

While we can't predict every disaster, we can prepare ourselves. At Augusta Health, we take disasters seriously and have emergency preparedness plans in place to protect patients and the community. The American Red Cross also provides extensive information about disaster preparedness.