Creating a Family Disaster Plan
Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. City of Berkeley officials and disaster service workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. This page was designed to provide information about how to be prepared in the event of a disaster or public health emergency.
City of Berkeley Public Health Division
1947 Center Street, Second Floor, Berkeley, CA 94704
Map to Public Health Division
510-981-5300 (Phone) 510-981-5395 (Fax) 510-981-6903 (TDD)
Monday - Friday: 8:00am - 5:00pm
For more information about disaster preparedness for your family and community, click on the following link: http://www.fema.gov
The following was adapted from the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Community and Family Preparedness Programs.
In the event of a bioterrorist incident, you may be asked to shelter yourself in your home. Families can--and do--cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow the steps listed below to create your family's disaster plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection as well as your responsibility.
5 Steps to Safety
1. Find Out What Could Happen to You
2. Create a Disaster Plan
3. Complete This Checklist
4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan
5. Your Family Disaster Supply Kit
Find Out What Could Happen to You
- Learn about the types of disasters that might happen in Berkeley and the surrounding communities.
- Learn about your community's warning signals: what they sound like and what you should do when you hear them.
- Ask about animal care after a disaster. Animals are not allowed inside emergency shelters because of health regulations.
- Find out how to help elderly or disabled persons, if needed.
- Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children's school or day care center, and other places where your family spends time.
Create a Disaster Plan
- Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather, and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
- Pick two places to meet:
- Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
- Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
- Ask an out-of-state friend to be your "family contact." After a disaster, it's often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact's phone number.
- Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
Complete This Checklist
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
- Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
- Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches.
- Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
- Get training from the fire department for each family member on how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt.
- Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supplies kit (click below)
- Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
- Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
Practice and Maintain Your Plan
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- Quiz your kids every six months so.
- Conduct fire and emergency evacuation.
- Replace stored water every six months and stored food every six months.
- Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Test your smoke detectors monthly and charge the batteries at least once a year.
Other Things You Should Do If Disaster Hits
1. Neighbors Helping Neighbors
2. Home Hazard Hunt
4. If you're sure you have time...
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Working with neighbors can save lives and property. The City of Berkeley offers CERT trainings to prepare neighborhoods to be self-sufficient in the event of a disaster. Meet with your neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. Know your neighbors' special skills (e.g., medical, technical) and consider how you could help neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. Make plans for child care in case parents can't get home.
Home Hazard Hunt
During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, a hot water heater or a bookshelf can fall. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.
Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards.
- Evacuate immediately if told to do so.
- Listen to your battery-powered radio and follow the instructions of local emergency officials.
- Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Take your Disaster Supplies Kit
- Lock your home.
- Use travel routes specified by local authorities--don't use shortcuts because certain areas may be impassable or dangerous.
If you're sure you have time....
- Shut off water, gas, and electricity before leaving, if instructed to do so.
- Make arrangements for your pets.
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Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least five days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers such as back-packs, duffle bags, or covered trash containers.
- A five-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
- One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
- Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries.
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card, cash or traveler's checks.
- Sanitation supplies.
- Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members.
- An extra pair of glasses.
- Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car.
If Disaster Strikes
- Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action.
Check for Injuries
- Give first aid and get help for seriously injured people.
Listen to Your Battery-Powered Radio for News and Instructions
- Evacuate, if advised to do so. Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes.
- Confine or secure your pets.
- Call your family contact--do not use the telephone again unless it is a life-threatening emergency.
- Check on your neighbors, especially elderly or disabled persons.
- Make sure you have an adequate water supply in case service is cut off.
- Stay away from downed power lines.
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