PLAN. Prepare. Protect

Create an Emergency Plan

Make sure everyone in your house knows your emergency plan. An emergency plan should include a communication plan, an evacuation plan and your emergency kit. Knowing what to do before an emergency is your best protection. Use this printable worksheet from to create your family's emergency plan. Include things like:

  • Emergency telephone numbers (fire, police, ambulance, Poison Control Hotline, etc.). Also post by telephones and save in mobile phones.
  • Safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
  • The best escape routes from your home. Designate two ways out of each room.

PlanPrepareProtect*Project funded by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Views expressed on this website do not necessarily represent the official views of the CDC.

Become familiar with what disasters are possible in your area. Contact your local American Red Cross or Emergency Management Office. Find out what types of disasters are most likely to happen. Request information on how to prepare for each. Learn about your community's warning signals: what do they sound like and what should you do when you hear them? Ask about animal care after the disaster. Animals other than service animals may not be allowed inside emergency shelters. Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.

Preparedness is a Family Responsibility

Talk with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for an emergency. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Become familiar with the emergency plans at your workplace, your children's school or daycare and any other places your family spends time. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Pick two places that your family could meet:

  • Right outside of your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
  • A place outside of your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. Everyone must know the address and the phone number.


Consider different methods of communicating during emergency situations. Options for keeping in contact with family and friends during and after an emergency include:

  • Phone contact with a designated family member or friend who is unlikely to be affected by the same disaster.
  • Email notification via a family distribution list.
  • Registration on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Following the 2005 hurricane season, the Red Cross developed the Safe and Well website, which enables people within a disaster area to let their friends and loved ones outside of the affected region know their well-being.
  • Use of the toll-free Contact Loved Ones voice messaging service at 866-78 CONTACT.

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