Make a Plan

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The time to plan is now, not when a disaster strikes. Your family may not be together during an emergency, so it is important to have a family emergency plan.

Family Emergency PlanPlanning for a diaster

  • Talk to your family about the types of disasters that are most likely to occur in your area.
  • After a disaster it is often easier to call long distance than to make a local call. Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be an emergency contact so family members can check in. Every family member should know that phone number and have coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
  • Make sure family members are certified in CPR and first aid.
  • For those without access to private transportation, learn about your community’s evacuation plan. In Blacksburg, contact Blacksburg Transit at 540-443-1500.
  • Decide on a family meeting place in case you cannot return to your home. Make a record of the address and phone number of the location, as well as contact information for family members. Keep this with you at all times.
  • Make a visual or written record of your possessions. This information is essential when it comes to making claims for losses. Include photographs of vehicles and the outside of the house, professional appraisal of jewelry and collectibles, and receipts and canceled checks for valuable items.
  • Meet with your neighbors and learn how you can work together in an emergency. Find out if anyone has specialized equipment, like a generator, or who may have medical knowledge in case of an emergency. Choose someone to check on elderly and disabled neighbors.
  • Know your community’s response and evacuation plans. Know the location of emergency shelters, but before evacuating, tune in to local media for a list of opened shelters. Each emergency situation is unique and only certain shelters may be opened.
  • Learn about the emergency response plans where you and your family spend time: like at work, school, and daycare. Find out how local authorities will warn you of a disaster. Sign up for Citizens Alert. Stay tuned to WTOB or other local media for instructions on what to do.

For Older Americans and People with Disabilities

  • Find out what plans your apartment complex, assisted living facility or nursing home has in case of emergency.
  • Give your power company a list of all the life-support equipment you need and get another source of power in case of a power outage.
  • Arrange for someone, such as a neighbor, to turn off your utilities in case you cannot do so. Post emergency numbers for utility companies by your phone.
  • If you or others in your household are hearing impaired, consider buying an alert system with a visual signal. Many hardware stores will special order these systems.
  • If you undergo routine treatments at a clinic or at home, such as dialysis, talk to your health provider about their emergency plans. Identify back-up service providers and incorporate them into your support network.
  • Create a support network of family, friends and others who can assist you in an emergency. Make sure they know how you plan to evacuate, have a key to your home, and know where you keep your emergency supplies. Teach them how to use your health equipment and how to administer your medicine.
  • Don't forget to practice your plan.


  • Many emergency shelters will not accept pets other than service animals.
  • Talk to your veterinarian or local humane society now about an emergency plan for your pets.
  • If you must evacuate, take your pets with you, if possible.
  • Make a plan now for your pet to stay at a friend’s or relative’s home, a pet-friendly hotel or motel or a kennel or vet’s office that will shelter your pet in an emergency.
  • Get a pet emergency supply kit.
  • Do not leave your pet outside during an emergency. Bring them inside.