From flash floods and raging fires to powerful hurricanes and out-of-nowhere tornadoes, disaster can strike quickly and without warning.
In addition to having an emergency kit on hand, your family should have a plan of what to do in an emergency.
In recognition of National Preparedness Month, we’re sharing the most important steps your family can take to plan for an emergency.
Information Gathering and Planning
Be aware of the type of disasters or emergencies that are common in your area – fire? flooding? major storms? – and know what to do in each situation.
- Educate your children on the dangers of fire and severe weather. Plan how family members will divide responsibilities and work together. Most importantly, keep it simple so everyone can understand and remember important details.
- Understand the difference between different weather alerts (such as watches and warnings) and what actions to take for each.
- Figure out how you will get information (local radio, TV, NOAA Weather radio stations or channels) and have a backup plan in case of a power outage. Don’t assume Internet and social media will be available.
Communicating in an Emergency
Disasters are often unpredictable and can strike at any moment. In the event that your family isn’t together when an emergency hits, it’s important to have a plan for how to contact each other. Keep in mind that cell phone service is likely to be intermittent or unavailable altogether.
- Compile contact information for relevant family members and keep it handy in a wallet or purse.
- Check if your children’s day care or school includes identification planning as part of their emergency plans.
- Designate a relative or friend to be your family contact in case you cannot reach someone locally after a disaster.
- Select two meeting places – one right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, and one outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home or need to evacuate.
If a mandatory evacuation order is issued for your area, take caution and abide by the order immediately.
- Identify your nearest evacuation centers, when they will open and, if applicable, which ones allow pets.
- As an alternative to an evacuation center, reach out to friends or family who live outside of the disaster zone and create a list of potential evacuation locations. Record names and contact information of all people willing to let you stay in their homes.
- Designate someone to pack the car with all your supplies and another person to listen for evacuation orders and print out driving directions to your shelter.
- Gather local area maps in the event that you lose service or power to mobile devices you rely on for maps and GPS.
Caring for Your Pets
For many Floridians, pets are just as much a part of the family as everyone else. If you’re a pet owner, take special precautions and make preparations to keep your pet safe.
- Make sure your pet's tags are current and print a copy of their most recent shot records.
- Coordinate boarding options for pets (e.g., pet hospital, kennel, pet-friendly hotel or local shelter).
- Designate someone to be responsible for transporting your pet in the event your family evacuates.
For additional information on emergency planning and preparations, visit: