Because disasters can occur anytime and anywhere without advanced notice, it is important to have a family plan of action and communication to ensure that all household members are safe. Answer questions such as: Where will you go? How will you get there? How will you communicate? How will you receive information?  How will you get the help you need? Who will care for your pets?

Steps to Create Your Plan

  • Know which disasters are most common to Franklin County.
  • Gather information on how to prepare for each type of disaster.
  • Learn how you will receive emergency information.
  • Find evacuation routes.
  • Locate public shelters and special needs shelters if you have family members that qualify.
  • Learn about the emergency plans for your children’s schools.
  • If you have a pet, identify hotels that accept pets or the nearest pet-friendly shelter.
  • Discuss what to do for power outages and personal injuries.
  • Assure that each family member, even the youngest, knows two escape routes from the home.
  • Learn how to turn off all the utilities, such as power, water, and gas.
  • Post important and emergency telephone numbers.
  • Make a copy all medical information, prescriptions, etc.
  • Review insurance documents and take photos of your home inside and out.
  • Have two designated emergency contacts, one local and one distant, perhaps even out of state. 
  • Have two meeting places, one near the home in case of fire and one outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return after the disaster.
  • Start by checking your home for hazards. All flammables and chemicals cause a fire or health hazard.
  • Keep a copy of your plan in your emergency supply kits and a list of important information and contacts in your wallet.
  • Share your plan with your family, friends and others.
  • Practice your plan

Develop a Family Communications Plan

  • Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations.
  • Consider adding a component to the plan where each family member contacts an out-of-town friend or relative to check-in.  A contact outside the immediate area may not be impacted by the same emergency and would have a better ability to assist.
  • Determine meeting places close to home for local emergencies such as fires, and away from home for more widespread disasters.

Shelter in Place

  • Sheltering in Place is staying in your home to avoid greater danger outside.
  • Consider what supplies you will need to safely shelter-in-place alone or with friends, family or neighbors.
  • Have a plan in place to communicate with those outside your home to ensure your continued safety.
  • There could be times when you will need to stay put and create a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside. This process is known as “sealing the room.” For more information about “sealing the room,” visit

Evacuation Plan

  • There may be conditions when you will decide to leave your home or ordered to do so.
  • Plan how you will leave and coordinate where you will go.
  • Choose several destinations in different directions so you have many options in an emergency.
  • Ask about evacuation plans at the places where you spend time including work, community organizations and other places you frequent.
  • If you typically rely on elevators, have a back-up plan in case they are not working.


  • Be sure to consider family pets and service animals in your emergency plan.
  • Keep pet supplies in your emergency kit.
  • Make sure your pet has a microchip or has tags on at all times.
  • Consider locating a friend, family member, or boarding facility that can keep your pet in a more familiar and less stressful place than a public shelter.

Fill out a Family Emergency Plan

Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.
Emergency Plan for Parents (PDF)

More information can be found at: