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Office of Emergency Services

Make a Plan

Do you know what your family would do in an emergency? You may not be together when disaster strikes so it's important that everyone create a plan in advance, so you'll know how to contact one another. 

Here are some steps to help get you started:

  • Identify Hazards Relevant to You
    • Learn which kinds of natural and human-caused disasters pose a risk for your area (earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.). Type your home address into this website from the California Office of Emergency Services to discover the hazards that exist in your area.
  • Build a Personal Disaster Kit

    • Your preparedness to respond to an emergency will depend on the your planning, and the supplies you have ready. Learn how to build emergency supply kits for your shelter, vehicle and work space. Check with your child’s school or care provider to learn what they have planned. And consider the unique needs of children, elderly parents, grandparents and any disabled or special needs family members. Don’t forget, pets are family too! At minimum, your kit should include:
      • Water: One gallon per person, per day

      • Food: Three day supply of non-perishable items

      • Protein bars, canned fruits and vegetables (plus a can opener), nuts and crackers

      • Radios, flashlights and extra batteries

      • Cellphone chargers

      • First aid kit

      • Sanitation items

      • Copies of important documents in a waterproof container

      • Medications

    • Preparing does not have to break the budget. You can pick up extra items each time you do your weekly or monthly shopping and set them aside in a designated area or container. Make sure the entire family knows that they are for emergencies only and knows where they are located.
  • Develop a Communications Plan

    • Things to consider:

      • How will you contact one another? 
      • How will you let family know that you're somewhere safe?
      • Identify someone to alert in the event that a pet is at home alone while your away
      • Understand that certain communication networks may not be available during a disaster (IE: electrical lines may be down; cellphones and computers may not be fully charged)
  • Document contact information

    • Collect phone numbers and emails for out-of-town relatives, doctors, vets, schools and employers
    • Identify the addresses and phone numbers of area shelters, hotels and other safe locations
    • Make sure all family members have copies of contact information
  • Plan an evacuation route

    • Chose two places to meet:
      • Right outside of your home, in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire. It's best to know two ways out of your home.
      • A common meeting place outside of your neighborhood, such as a library or community center
    • Identify the routes to leave your area in the event of an evacuation
    • Call hotels along your route to determine if they are pet-friendly
    • Consider those with disabilities and make sure meeting places are accessible for all 

Practice your plan

  • Safely play out scenarios, just like you would a fire drill
  • Identify a household leader who can make last-minute decisions
  • Make sure everyone, including children, understands how to call 9-1-1 and what situations warrant a 9-1-1 call (life-threatening emergencies only)
  • Update and adjust your plan as necessary


For resources to help create a Family Disaster Preparedness Plan:


For resources to help create a Caregiver Disaster Plan: