Emergency Preparedness Checklist

Pull Your Emergency Preparedness Plan
Together with an Emergency Preparedness Checklist

An emergency preparedness checklist is vitally important to your family's disaster safety plan. Here's how to create one:

Emergency Preparedness Checklist
  • Create a diagram of your home with escape routes
  • Include evacuation and meeting place information
  • Gather contact information for all family members, and an out of state contact
  • Provide instructions on emergency utility shutoff
  • List contact information for vital services like insurance, fire, safety, and financial

Preparing your family in case of emergency is an important safety measure. While we all hope to never need to use our family emergency plan, expecting the unexpected can mean the difference between life and death in case of an emergency like severe weather, natural disaster, fire, industrial accident, or terrorist attack. In addition to creating your family evacuation plan and gathering emergency supplies, you will need to create an emergency preparedness checklist to make sure you have handy all of the detailed information you may need in case of a disaster.

When creating an emergency preparedness checklist, make sure you include information on how to escape from your home, office, or school, and contact information for keeping in touch with family locally and out of state. You'll also want to include detailed information on shutting off the utilities to the house, where to find insurance cards and important records, how to provide for any family member's special needs, and how to care for pets in an emergency.

The first step in creating an emergency preparedness list is to draw a diagram of your home. Use a clean sheet of paper for every floor, and clearly indicate two escape routes from every room. Make sure that every family member, including young kids, understand the diagram and post a copy at eye level in each family member's bedroom. Also indicate where family members should meet after evacuation. If an emergency happens at home, for example, designate a neighbor's house as a meeting spot. If you are away from home, designate a local store or other well known area to meet and make sure to indicate this location on the diagram as well. You can create a diagram with the instructions provided on the fire evacuation page to save some time.

Your emergency preparedness checklist should also include contact information for each family member, including home, work, school, and cell phone numbers. Your family may not be all together when an emergency happens, and it's important to stay in touch so that you can verify the safety and whereabouts of each family member.

Also keep handy phone numbers for out of state emergency contacts in case some local phone lines are down; this person can act as a liaison between you and any local family members that you are unable to reach directly, and can keep other family and friends apprised of your situation. Create wallet cards with this information for each family member; for kids, you can place the cards in a compartment of your child's backpack in a sealed plastic bag.

Other vital information to include on your emergency preparedness list is utility shutoff and safety information. After a disaster, it's important to shut off the gas, water, and electricity to your home. Damaged water lines could be polluted, and leaking natural gas could cause a fire, so you should shut off these utilities after a disaster until authorities tell you it is safe to use them. Never attempt to turn your own natural gas supply back on; this could put your family and home at risk – only a qualified professional should restore your natural gas service.

Finally, make sure to keep important documents together in one place like a home filing system, and include information on your emergency preparedness checklist about how to contact insurance companies, medical services, financial institutions, and local law enforcement and emergency services. Taking the time to create an emergency preparedness list now can help your family know what to do in case of a disaster.

Photo courtesy of Brett Nutter may not be copied, reproduced, or sold.

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