Be Prepared: Make a Plan

Having a family disaster plan gives you peace of mind when disaster strikes – everyone knows what to do, where to go, and how to communicate. Consider multiple what-if scenarios to help provide your family with options in a disaster.

Things to consider in building your family plan:

  • How will you reunite with family?
  • Where is your meeting location outside your home?
  • Where is your meeting location far away from home?
  • What are alternative routes to home, work, or other important locations?
  • What are your work, school or day care emergency plans?
  • Who is your out-of-area contact?
  • What if you have no electricity?
  • What if you have no water services?
  • What phone numbers should you have written down or memorized?

Out of Area Contact

As a family, choose a friend or relative who lives outside of the Pacific Northwest and ask them to be your out-of-area contact. In a disaster, you may be unable to make phone calls due to service outages or overwhelmed cell towers. Instead of trying to call, text your out-of-area contact where you are and if you are okay or need help. This person can serve as a relay between you and your family, sharing important messages and each other’s locations. Download our contact card to fill out and keep in a safe place, like your disaster kits.

Important Documents

A man is surrounded by documents and files in a messy room.

Immediately after a disaster you may need copies of important documents to prove identity, prove ownership, and for insurance claims. As part of your plan, store copies of important documents and store them in a safe place. Remember to use cybersecurity tips if using an online, cloud-based platform to store documents. For a helpful checklist of documents you may need, download FEMA’s Emergency Financial First Aid Kit.

Local Emergency Alerts

A banner says sign up for local emergency alerts

When discussing your family disaster plan, make sure everyone knows how to receive emergency information. When disasters happen, you may know immediately, such as feeling the ground shaking in an earthquake, or you may not know right away, such as an earthquake in Alaska which has caused a tsunami making it’s way towards the Washington coast. News reports and social media platforms are two options for receiving information after an emergency but they should not be your first option for receiving crisis information. Wherever you go in Washington, there is a local emergency alert system. It is important for you to sign up to receive these emergency alerts; how can we warn you about a disaster if we can’t reach you? Visit our website to find your area’s alert system. You will not receive spam messages and will only receive an alert when an emergency is imminent or immediately happening. You can also sign up your family members!

Prepare in a Year

Preparing for disasters does not need to be overwhelming! Start small and just keep going. Check out the Prepare in a Year guide to breakdown preparedness into bite-sized pieces.

Action Plan

Knowing what your family will do in a disaster gives peace of mind. Have an intentional family meeting to decide on what your action plan will be; where will you go to reunite, what is your home fire escape plan, and who are trusted adults who can help? Then remember to review your plan annually and update any information. To help everyone remember what the plan is, practice it! You can make practicing your family plan into a game or rainy-day activity.

Resources for Preparedness

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