Disasters can strike at any time, often without notice. Trying to identify an evacuation route or locate a family member during a disaster can be difficult and time consuming. Be ready before a disaster strikes by developing an emergency plan. Building an emergency plan tailored to your individual or family needs will help everyone know what to do if a crisis occurs, saving time and lives. When building your emergency plan consider the following: risks, unique needs, and location.
Many regions of the country are prone to multiple hazards. Texas itself is vulnerable to flooding, hurricanes, tornados, wildland fires, winter weather, and even earthquakes. When building your emergency plan be sure to identify the hazards for your area, both natural and manmade. Your local emergency management department is a great resource to help you identify these hazards. If you live on a reservation, your tribal leaders or the reservation’s emergency management department are excellent resources to assist you with emergency planning. During and after a disaster be sure to remain alert for changing hazards. Alert and warning systems, emergency radio, special sirens, and TV broadcasts are useful tools to keep informed about hazards during and post disaster. Make sure everyone in your family is aware of the different information resources available to during an emergency.
Every family is different. Your emergency plan should reflect your individual needs. Consider items such as dietary restrictions, language, cultural, and religious considerations, or medical care. Other considerations when building your plan might include:
Access and Functional Needs
If you or someone in your family has an access or functional need, extra disaster preparations may be necessary. Make sure to keep an emergency supplies kit on hand that also includes any specialty items such as medical equipment and prescriptions. Remember loss of electrical power is very common during a disaster, so be sure to plan accordingly for equipment and technology. Build a support network of neighbors, friends, or colleagues that you can reach out to for assistance if necessary. Keep medical contact information accessible and always wear medical alert tags or bracelets. Work with your doctors and medical care providers to build back up plans for any necessary outpatient or in home medical care. Alert emergency response personnel to any needs that might affect evacuation or shelter placement. For more tips and information on access and functional needs emergency planning please visit Ready.gov.
Another available to those with access and functional needs is to register for the State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR). STEAR is a program for individuals who may require some assistance during an emergency event. Registration is free, and information provided will assist local emergency planners and responders in addressing the needs of your community. For more information, visit State of Texas Emergency Assistance Registry (STEAR).
Disasters are frightening events, especially for young children. Including your children in the emergency planning process may help alleviate some of that fear by reducing uncertainty. Make emergency planning fun for children with games and projects. For ideas on how to engage your children in the emergency planning process visit Ready.gov. You can also download Disney Disaster Preparedness Activity Books, available in English and Spanish, from the American Red Cross.
Seniors should follow many of the same emergency planning tips listed above for access and functional needs. Additionally, if you or someone in your family depends upon federal benefits that arrive by mail consider a backup method for receiving those funds, such as electronic deposit. Be sure to keep your emergency documents including family and medical records, wills, deeds, social security information, and bank account information accessible and easily portable in case evacuation is required. For more ideas on emergency planning for seniors visit Ready.gov.
Pets and Service Animals
Animals are important members of the family with their own needs during a disaster. Like the human members of your family, animals also require a basic emergency supplies kit with at least three days of supplies. In the event of an evacuation, NEVER leave your animals behind. Left alone the likelihood of survival is very low, as is the chance for reunification after a disaster. Remember not all shelters can accommodate animals so plan ahead by identifying shelters or sheltering agencies in your community that take pets. Make sure you alert emergency response personnel about any service animals, to avoid separation during an evacuation. Keep your pet on a harness or in a carrier during an emergency, even if you plan on sheltering in place, in case your pet panics and tries to escape. For more tips and information on emergency planning for pets and service animals visit Ready.gov.
Because disasters can strike at any time, you may not be home when they occur. You may be at work, at school, on a commuter train, or in your car. When building your emergency plan give some consideration to how you might respond if an emergency occurs when you are somewhere other than home. This might include locating emergency exits or designated shelter in place areas for locations such as shopping malls, sports arenas, or places of worship. Coordinate with your workplace to determine if they have an emergency plan in place. You can also build a small emergency supplies kit to keep in your car in case you become stranded on the road. More planning ideas for different locations is available at Ready.gov.