The Ultimate Emergency Plan Checklist

With these supplies and details organized ahead of time, you’ll weather the storm with less stress.


Few people enjoy thinking about the possibility of an emergency. But if a calamitous event does take place, those who've taken steps to prepare for a possible disaster will find themselves on much better footing.

Where to begin? Use this checklist as your straightforward guide to prepare for the unexpected.

Familiarize Yourself With Disasters Typical to Your Area

If you live in a flood plain or your town is on an active fault line, you need to plan accordingly. Check for what to expect in your local area.

Create a Basic Emergency Supply Kit

Be sure your bug-out bag includes the following: Water (have one gallon per person, per day, for three days); food (have a three-day supply of nonperishable items); can opener; battery-powered radio; flashlight; extra batteries; moist towelettes and garbage bags (for sanitation needs); local maps (if your preplanned evacuation route isn't passable, you can navigate back roads, if necessary); first-aid kit; whistle (to signal for help); wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities); dust mask.

Consider a Few Extra Items

These might be food, medication, and toys for pets; infant formula and diapers; extra eyeglasses; an extra prescription slip or refill of important medications (talk to your doctor); comfortable shoes and a change of clothing for each family member; blankets or sleeping bags.

Make a Miniature Go Bag

Create a small version of an emergency kit with essentials like nonperishable food, water, a small first-aid kit, and a change of clothes that you can grab in a hurry or keep in the car.

Know Your Evacuation Routes

Have more than one option for getting out of town quickly. It's a good idea to have some car emergency essentials already packed, such as a spare tire and a car battery charger. It also helps to keep paper maps in your car console in the event that your phone runs out of battery.

Designate Three Family Meeting Spots

Pick an area near the home to meet in the event of a fire. Choose another that is in the region, in case everyone is scattered and can't get home. Have a third that is out of town, should your family have to evacuate separately.

Select an Out-of-Town Contact

Name one family member or friend who can serve as a point person if your immediate family is separated.

Make a List of Important Phone Numbers

Everyone in the family should have a list of important contacts they carry with them. Make sure you include numbers for your office, your partner's office, your children's schools, day care, doctors, and close family members. Include the numbers of your health and homeowner's insurance companies, as well as your policy numbers.

Write Down Important Personal Information

On the same emergency phone list, note any medical conditions you have. For your young children, record their date of birth, address, and medical conditions. You can print out a template listing all of this info at

Know the Emergency Plan of Your Children's Schools

If your kids are evacuated from school or day care, where do they go? Where can you pick them up? Familiarize yourself with the answers to these questions now, rather than later.

Schedule a Family Meeting

Make sure everyone knows and understands your emergency plan. Talk about meeting points, discuss fire safety, and have kids get involved in making the emergency supply kit. They may alert you to something you forgot—like the necessity of a spare security blanket.

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