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Make a Plan - Emergency Plan Tips and Forms

By establishing and practicing a family emergency plan, you and your family are more likely to find each other quickly and help one another get through the emergency situation safely and with less worry. Some emergencies require different responses than others, but a family plan and  communications procedure will be helpful in any case. Knowing how to keep in touch and find one another will help your family stay safe and cope with the confusion and fear that come when emergencies strike, especially if one of you is on duty in response.

  • Plan for the various emergency situations or disasters that could strike your family, considering potential hazards and weather patterns in your region.
  • Think about all the places you and your family may be throughout the day, such as home, work, school, and in transit.
  • Think through each possible emergency situation, and determine how your family should respond.
  • Gather input from all members of your family to consider all possibilities and make them more likely to remember important steps when an emergency happens.
  • Establish meeting places both inside and outside your neighborhood and discuss situations in which to use them.
  • Choose a contact person, a family member, or friend living somewhere else whom you can all contact if an emergency strikes when you are separated.
  • Review the plan annually and whenever there are major changes in your family situation, schedule, or activities.

Make an emergency plan with your familyMaking an emergency plan is just the first step; you should practice it at least twice a year. Describe to family members a hypothetical event and tell them to follow the family emergency plan. Practice gathering your emergency kit and important documents, communicating with one another, and meeting at a designated place. Afterwards, discuss the actions you took and how the plan would change in a different type of emergency.

You should understand the local mass warning system(s) and, when notified, be prepared to evacuate, move to a civilian shelter or designated safe haven, or temporarily shelter in place. You should plan primary and alternative evacuation routes in advance, with appropriate maps to take along in your emergency supply kit.

Be Part of the Solution
The Coast Guard’s mission may put personnel on duty in the thick of an emergency. If their families know what to do, they can focus on their job to help others and protect the country. No matter where you are when an emergency strikes, if you are not on duty as a responder -

  • Do your best to take care of yourself and your family; help neighbors and others if you can.
  • Leave the response to the professionals. Do not put yourself in harm’s way and become part of the problem.
  • Enable responders to focus on the most critical needs first.
  • Stay alert for instructions. Do your best to remain flexible and cooperative.

Other Forward Planning Opportunities
In addition to your family emergency plan, the Coast Guard encourages you to take advantage of the Personal Readiness Plan (PRP). The PRP is broken into ten sections to provide you and your family a framework to organize and store your personal information and paperwork, from personal identity and financial documents to insurance policies, wills, and estate plans.

Some of these plans, such as powers of attorney and wills may require legal assistance. Find out more about legal advice and counsel opportunities offered at no cost to service members, retirees, and dependants by viewing the Coast Guard Legal Assistance Page.

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Last Modified 6/11/2014