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Emergency Plans for Your Family

October 31 2010

Do you know what to do when a disaster strikes? Do your children? You can protect your family by creating and following an emergency plan.

Fires, tornadoes and earthquakes each require a separate emergency plan. You need an effective escape strategy that has every exit and route clearly mapped out, as well as a safe place to stay.


Fires tend to get big fast, so your goal is to get your family out and away from the home as fast and as safely as possible, says kidshealth.org. Smoke can be disorienting and the heat from fire can close off whole rooms, so include alternate routes that anticipate these scenarios.

Practice fire drills with your children at least twice a year so they know their routes and the proper techniques that identify safe passages from hazardous smoke coming from under closed doors and hot door handles. Show them how to crawl on the floor to safety.


Earthquakes are devastating because the event can be followed by aftershocks that are just as powerful as the original quake. Your safest places to go are under a sturdy desk or table, against an interior wall, or in the jamb of a door on a load-bearing wall.

Avoid areas that hold objects that can fly off shelves like bookcases, dressers or kitchen cabinets. Don’t stand under chandeliers or ceiling fans since these could fall on you.  A safe rule, no matter what, is to stay away from glass or breakables of any kind. 


Much like earthquakes, tornadoes are fast and merciless. Many of the safety rules are the same – avoid rooms with lots of glass, and seek shelter in interior rooms, closets, hallways, or a storm shelter/basement, if available. When you hear the tornado-siren, preparedness is crucial; tornados travel at an average speed of 25 to 40 mph on ground and up to 70 mph in the air.

Keep an emergency list of contacts on your cellphone. Your emergency plan should include a rendezvous point in case your family gets separated and there is no phone service.

Teach your family to react quickly and not to turn back for any possessions.

There are many smart pre-disaster measures you can take. Review your insurance to make sure you’re covered in the event of a disaster. Prepare a disaster kit stocked with food and water for a few days. Store important files on the Internet instead of on your hard drive.  Keep valuables, important files, priceless photographs, and family papers in a safety deposit box. 

You may lose everything, but you’ll keep what matters most – your family.