Family Disaster Plans (Fifth in a series on disaster planning)

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This is the fifth in a series of articles on disaster preparedness and how to safeguard your community, save lives and minimize damage.


In addition to the plan you are developing for your manufactured home community, you should encourage each resident family to have its own disaster plan in place.  


Residents should know what types of disaster could occur, and what they can do about each one.  A community newsletter is a good way to educate residents, and so are community meetings.


Residents should also know how they will be notified of a potential disaster.  Does the community have a warning system, such as a siren, and what does each signal mean?  


If someone in the family is responsible for helping to notify others in the community, phone numbers or addresses should be posted near the phone or in a place that can be easily reached.


It’s a good idea for all members of a family to discuss and develop these plans together.  The plans should include:


  • Escape routes in the home, if doors are blocked
  • Where to go in case of an immediate emergency, such as a community shelter
  • Where to go in case of an evacuation
  • A map of the evacuation route
  • A list of phone numbers that would be needed in a disaster  (This would include doctors, relatives and insurance agents)
  • A contact person outside of the area for all family members to call to report on their safety and whereabouts
  • A place to meet if the family is separated


In addition, each member of the family should be assigned a job to do to get ready for an emergency.  For example:


  • Set up, maintain and move emergency supplies
  • Stow breakable items
  • Secure outside items, such as awnings, grills or patio furniture
  • Turn off utilities (electricity, water, natural or LP gas)
  • Collect pets 
  • Collect valuable items, if time allows (credit cards, insurance papers, drivers licenses, photos)


Note: Different steps should be taken to secure the home, depending on what type of disaster is being planned for.


Every member of the family should be familiar with the plan, and should participate in planned community practices or drills. Children should know where to go and what to do in case of an emergency, and should practice with their parents several times each year.  They should also memorize contact names and phone numbers in case separated from their parents.


In a community disaster, families may need to be able to survive on their own for several days.  This means each household should have its own water, food, clothing, a first aid kit and other emergency supplies ready to go at all times.  A list of the basics each family should have is provided on the opposite page.  It has been adapted from a list developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).


Family Emergency Supplies List


FEMA recommends that families use backpacks or duffel bags to store their emergency supplies and to move them, if necessary. They should contain items from the list below.


Families should keep their emergency supplies in a cool, dry place.  Boxed foods should be stored in closed containers.  The food and medical supplies should be dated and replaced with new supplies as needed.  If you are storing water over a long period of time, treat each container with a water purification element before storing it.  Keep water in a cool, dark place in tightly closed, unbreakable containers.


If someone in your family has a disability or specific medical problem that creates special needs, be sure that the necessary items are included in the emergency supplies.  If someone in the family is dependent on electric powered respirators or other medical equipment, find out what kinds of special assistance are available in the community.  If a family has no one who is capable of driving in an evacuation, make sure that a neighbor or someone else nearby will provide transportation.



Water, Food and Utensils


  • Water (1 gallon per person per day) in non-breakable containers
  • Ice and cooler chest
  • Water purification materials: tablets, tincture of iodine or household bleach, with instructions on how they are used
  • Food: high-nutrition and ready to eat items like canned tuna, peanut butter, granola bars
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Special foods, such as baby food, if needed
  • Pet food, if needed
  • Plastic utensils and cups


Communications, Lighting and Safety


  • Battery-powered radio and extra batteries
  • Cellular phone or citizens band radio
  • NOAA weather-alert radio
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • Work gloves
  • Propane gas stove


Clothing and Bedding


  • One complete change of clothing for each person, appropriate for weather conditions
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Outer-wear appropriate for weather conditions
  • Extra underwear and socks
  • Sleeping bag or two blankets for each person
  • Pillows


Personal Items


  • Contact lens solution
  • Dentures
  • Deodorant
  • Family Medications
  • Insect repellent
  • Sanitary napkins or tampons
  • Sewing kit
  • Shampoo, comb, hair brush
  • Shaving kit
  • Soap, toothbrushes, and toothpaste
  • Special children’s needs: toys, blanket, pacifier, diapers
  • Washcloth and towel


First Aid Kit


  • Adhesive tape and bandages
  • Antibiotic and anti-itch ointments
  • Antiseptic solution
  • Aspirin or substitute
  • Diarrhea medication
  • First aid handbook
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Prescription and non-prescription medications used by family
  • Scissors and tweezers
  • Sterile bandages


Papers and Valuables

(if not kept in a safety deposit box)


  • Birth certificates
  • Credit cards and cash
  • Deeds and mortgages
  • Drivers licenses
  • Insurance policies
  • Inventory of household goods (photos preferred)
  • List of emergency phone numbers
  • Photos that can’t be replaced
  • Savings and checking account records
  • Small valuables: watches, jewelry, cameras, electronics
  • Stocks and bonds
  • Wills

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