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Habitat Ready: Disaster Preparedness for Homeowners

Disasters can strike at any moment, with little notice.

In order to protect your home and family, it is important to be prepared and have a plan in place. The family preparedness plan contains four steps that families should take to be ready for any disaster.

Identify hazards

  • Identify what types of disasters are most likely to happen in your area, and learn about how to prepare for each.

  • Learn about your community’s warning system and signals (sirens, text messages, etc.).

  • Consider purchasing a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather radio. This radio broadcasts official warnings, watches, advisories, forecasts and other hazards 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

  • Identify local organizations that perform emergency management (Red Cross/Red Crescent, nonprofits, etc.) and know how to contact them.

  • Educate yourself on any disaster plans in place at your workplace, children’s school or other places you and your family spend time.

Hold a family meeting

  • Meet with your family to discuss why it is important to be prepared.

  • Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur, and explain what to do in each situation.

  • Assign responsibilities to each family member, and plan to work together as a team.

  • Decide on locations where you will meet in case a disaster strike. Outside your home and neighborhood in case of a sudden emergency, such as an earthquake or fire. Outside your city in case you cannot return home.

  • Discuss what to do in an evacuation and create a family evacuation plan.

  • If a family member is in the military or frequently away from home, plan how you will respond if he or she is away when a disaster strikes.

  • Document how your family will communicate if a disaster strikes, and create a family communications plan.

  • If anyone in your family has a disability or special needs, adjust your plan accordingly.

  • Be sure to include your family pets in your plan.


  • Assemble a disaster supply kit.

  • Locate safe places in your home for each type of disaster.

  • Determine the best evacuation routes from your home.

  • Become trained in first aid and CPR.

  • Show each family member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).

  • Make a complete inventory of your home and property.

  • Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher and where to find one.

  • Post emergency contacts (friends, family, neighbors, police, fire, etc.) on the refrigerator. 

Practice your plan

  • Practice your plan with your family on a regular basis (every six months).

  • Check your disaster supply kit every three months.

  • Replace stored water and food every three months.

  • Update any emergency contact info as changes occur.



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