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Keeping your family safe recommendations

Release Date: May 31, 2013

Keeping Your Family Safe During a Disaster

Main Content
Release date: 
May 28, 2013

TRENTON, N.J. - With another hurricane season approaching, now is the perfect time to develop a plan that will help keep your family safe and in touch should normal life be disrupted by a hurricane or other natural or man-made disaster.

Working together to plan and prepare for a potential disaster can help you and your family remain calm and to cope efficiently when an emergency occurs.

There are many things you can do to become better prepared for the unexpected. Here are a few things to consider as you design your family preparedness plan:

Take Advantage of Technology:

  • Update your contact lists in your phone, email and social media. This will make it easy to reach out to the right people quickly to get information and supply updates. Consider creating a group list serve of your top contacts.
  • Learn how to send updates via text and internet from your mobile phone to your contacts and social channels in case voice communications are not available. Text messages and the internet often have the ability to work in the event of a phone service disruption.
  • Keep extra batteries for your phone in a safe place or purchase a solar-powered or hand-cranked charger. These chargers are good emergency tools to keep your laptop and other small electronics working in the event of a power outage. If you own a car, purchase a car phone charger because you can charge your phone if you lose power at your home.
  • Program "In Case of Emergency" (ICE) contacts into your cell phone so emergency personnel can contact those people for you if you are unable to use your phone. Let your ICE contacts know that they are programmed into your phone and inform them of any medical issues or other special needs you may have.
  • If you have a traditional landline (non-broadband or VOIP) phone, keep at least one non-cordless receiver in your home because it will work even if you lose power.
  • If you are evacuated and have call-forwarding on your home phone, forward your home phone number to your cell phone number.
  • If you do not have a cell phone, keep a prepaid phone card to use if needed during or after a disaster.
  • Prepare and distribute a family contact sheet with names, relationships and phone numbers. This should include at least one out-of-town contact that may be better able to reach family members in an emergency.

Store your financial and other critical records “in the cloud” or on a flash or jump drive.

  • Important documents such as personal and financial records can be stored now in a password-protected area in the Cloud or on a secure flash or jump drive that you can keep readily available. A flash drive can be kept on a key ring so it can be accessed from any computer anytime, anywhere.
  • Remember important documents, such as personal and property insurance, identification including Driver's license/passport (for family members, as well) and banking information.

Prepare a Disaster Supply Kit

  • Plan to stock enough non-perishable food and other supplies to last your family three days without outside assistance
  • Customize your kit to meet your family’s specific needs such as prescription medications, infant formula and diapers and pet supplies.
  • Plan to store one gallon water per person per day for drinking and sanitation
  • Include a battery-powered radio, a NOAA weather radio and extra batteries
  • Flashlights and extra batteries
  • First Aid supplies
  • A whistle to signal for help
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
  • Dust masks or cotton t-shirts to help filter the air
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter in place
  • A tool kit that includes a wrench and pliers to turn off utilities
  • A manual can opener
  • A sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Clothing appropriate to the climate that includes one complete change of clothing per person

Maintain Your Kit

It’s important to make sure that your disaster supplies are in good condition and ready to use. Periodically use or discard the supplies you’ve stored and replace them so that they are ready for use when disaster strikes.

  • Keep canned food in a cool, dry place
  • Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life
  • Throw out any canned goods that become swollen, dented or corroded
  • Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in front.
  • Change stored food and water supplies every six months
  • Review your disaster kit every year to make sure that it fits your family’s changing needs.

In advance of a storm or other anticipated emergency:

  • Make sure your automobiles are fully fueled: gas stations may run out of fuel or be unable to operate gas pumps if the power goes out
  • Make sure you have enough cash on hand to cover emergency purchases. ATM machines may not be working.

For more tips on developing a family disaster plan, visit