Family Disaster Planning

There is much talk these days about emergency preparedness for natural and man-made disasters. In fact, FEMA reports that the Federal government has officially declared more than 1,000 of them since 2007. When a large-scale emergency happens, it’s easy to rely on the emergency management system to protect and provide for you – but it is ill-advised. Are you and your family ready for a disaster?

Assess the risks for certain hazards and prepare for them. While there is little threat of a volcanic eruption, earthquake, or hurricane in Arizona, there are several threats for which we need to be ready. Cybersecurity is increasingly an issue as hackers intrude upon our personal lives through technology. Drought preparedness strategies primarily involve water conservation. Extreme heat is a danger to desert dwellers and preparedness largely requires home preparation (covering windows, adding insulation, etc.). Floods take the lives of Arizonans every year, and readiness involves knowing how to be safe when they occur. Don’t forget to take precautions against home chemical incidents and keep the Poison Control Number handy (800-222-1222). Pandemic fears became a reality in 2009 with H1N1. Evacuation planning is vital to preparing for wildfires. There are, of course, other disaster threats, and it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to be aware of them and prepare for them. To get you started, here is a list of suggested preparedness activities.

  • Sign up to get emergency alerts.
  • Be informed of risks.
  • Make a plan with your family and ensure that all members know what to do in the event of an emergency. This should include emergency communications and meeting locations. Know where to go, what to do, and how to reconnect. Don’t forget your pets!
  • Know where your electrical and gas shut-off valves to your home are. If unsure, contact your utility company.
  • Protect critical documents.
  • Make sure you have property insurance.
  • Maintain and rotate basic survival items (at a minimum), including shelf-stable food; one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days; flashlights and batteries; a radio; duct tape and plastic to cover doors, windows, and vents; and a first aid kit. Don’t forget personal needs like prescription drugs and equipment.
  • Know your evacuation route(s) and have a shelter plan.

The time for deploying these recommendations is BEFORE disaster strikes, not during. Learn more at

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