Many emergencies and disasters occur without any warning. Since you can’t predict where you will be for disasters, it is important to have plans and supplies for the places you and your household go to regularly. Planning ahead makes sure that you and your family will know what to do and have the supplies you need to be safe wherever you are.
Find out what plans are available for the locations you go regularly. Customize your personal and household plans based on what household members would do if an emergency occurred while they were at that location.
Make a Plan by Location
Examples of locations to consider and plan for include:
- Vehicles (download the Commuter Emergency Plan)
- Regular methods of transportation such as trains, urban commuter transit
- School and daycare
- Places of worship
- Sports arenas and playing fields
- Entertainment locations such as theatres
- Shopping areas such as malls and retail centers
- Tourist and travel locations such as hotels
To develop a plan for different locations, you need to get important information about the organization or building managers’ plans. In some cases if plans are not available, you may have to work with the building manager or other members of the organization to develop or build out plans. Consider the following:
- How to get local alert or warnings while you are there
- Building alarm or alert systems
- Building evacuation plans including alternate exits
- Building or organization shelter in place plans
- Supplies you would need for temporary sheltering
Consider how the type of building or the environment around the building may impact alerts and warnings, shelter and evacuation and the need for supplies. Examples include:
- Single story vs multi-story or high-rise buildings have different types of alarm systems, shelter and evacuation considerations.
- Urban and rural locations may have different local assumptions and plans for evacuation if large areas are affected.
- Buildings like schools, sports arenas and malls may have different plans for evacuation and shelter depending on the specific building structure, or safe locations for shelter for different types of emergencies (e.g. tornadoes).
- Outdoor locations likes sports fields or golf courses need specific plans for rapid short-term shelter (e.g. for thunderstorms and lightening or tornadoes).
- Geography may be critical for some hazards (e.g. if the area is low and vulnerable to flash flooding).
- Mobile homes, modular structures and other buildings not attached to permanent foundations require planning for evacuation and alternate shelter locations.
Neighborhoods, Condominiums and Apartments
- Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
- Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator or expertise such as medical knowledge that might help in a crisis.
- Decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
- Make back-up plans for children in case you can't get home in an emergency.
- Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.
In a High-Rise Building
- Know where the closest emergency exit is.
- Know another way out in case your first choice is blocked.
- Take cover against a desk or table if things are falling.
- Move away from file cabinets, bookshelves or other things that might fall.
- Face away from windows and glass.
- Move away from exterior walls.
- Determine if you should stay put, shelter-in-place or get away.
- Listen for and follow instructions.
- Take your emergency supply kit, unless there is reason to believe it has been contaminated.
- Do not use elevators.
- Stay to the right while going down stairwells to allow emergency workers to come up.
In a Moving Vehicle
- If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
- If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
- If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
- Listen to the radio for information and instructions as they become available.
- Have a plan for traveling between work and home and other commonly visited locations in case of an emergency. Download the Commuter Emergency Plan (PDF).