Household Disaster Plan
Jenny Parish
Ferris State University
This household disaster plan looks at a few of the potential disasters possible in Southwestern Michigan.
Disaster planning helps to prepare your family to cope during an emergency event in which help may not
be able to reach everyone right away. Preparing a response for these disasters can keep my family safe
both physically and mentally. The disaster plan identifies specific components such as family members
and their special needs, instructions on evacuation, meeting places, and emergency contacts. Talking with
family members about these potential disasters and how they should respond is essential for the plan to be
effective. A well designed disaster supply kit can help save lives and reduce the time it takes to recover
from a disaster event.
Household Disaster Plan
Preparing a family disaster plan and supply kit is a basic measure my family can take for
emergency preparedness in the case of a disaster event. When disaster strikes, we may only have minutes
to respond. Planning for disaster response is an important step to protect the safety of my family. By
preparing a household disaster plan and talking with the family about disaster, we are increasing our
preparedness (Michigan Prepares, 2012). Our family plan is designed to respond to the type of disasters
likely to occur in our area. This plan also considers the special needs of my family, pets, and neighbors.
To prepare my family for these possible disasters; all family members should know how to call 911 for
help, learn to shut off utilities at the main switches, learn how to determine the best escape routes from
each room of the home, be able locate safe spots in and out of the home, know who to call for help, and be
able to assemble and locate components of our disaster supply kit.
My Family and Home
I have a family of three and two cats. Our family home is a single story ranch located about 8
miles outside of the town of Decatur. The house has an attached garage and full basement. The home is
located on seven acres, remote from close neighbors. Although we may be far town, our property has one
key feature of accessibility. It runs along an interstate highway. In fact, access to this highway would be
a priority route in case of an emergency evacuation. Listed below are the people and pets included in my
household disaster plan:
Mother: Jenny Parish
Female Cat: Maxine
Father: Gregg Mann
Male Cat: Little Boy
Son: Kenny Mann
Disaster Risk in My Community
According to the National Weather Advisory, Michigan has a very low risk profile for natural
disasters and adverse weather conditions in comparison to other states. Possible disaster events likely to
occur in Southwest Michigan include severe winter storm, nuclear disaster, tornado, and fire. These are
the events my family will prepare and design a response plan for.
Nuclear Event/Terrorist Attack
The Palisades nuclear power plant located in South Haven, Michigan; is approximately 30 miles
from my family home. In the event of a nuclear disaster or terrorist attack on this location, it would be
critical to follow the directions in the Emergency Preparedness booklet published by the Entergy
Palisades and the emergency management departments of the state of Michigan. This emergency
preparedness booklet includes information on what to do in the event of a nuclear disaster at the power
plant (Entergy Palisades, 2011). In this type of disaster, it is important to tune into news or radio
broadcast to follow further directions on what to do, such as to keep inside the home or to evacuate. The
response will depend on the severity of the event, and predicted spread of the nuclear material. I have
printed the preparedness booklet and after reviewing it with my family, this handbook will stay in our
disaster supply kit.
Severe Winter Storm
According to the National Weather Service, Michigan’s southern Lower Peninsula winter was
colder and snowier than normal for the 2010-2011 winter season (Michigan Committee for Severe
Weather Awareness, 2011)). Based on the previous years report, this indicates Michigan is at an
increasing risk for severe winter storms to come. Depending on the amount and duration of snowfall,
people may become trapped in their homes and transportation may not be possible. If this were the case,
a disaster supply kit would be essential to meet basic needs until evacuation is possible. Having enough
food and supplies in our disaster supply kit to last a minimum of three days would keep the family safe
until the storm subsides. In the event of a power outage our family would be able to keep the home warm
because we heat with wood as well as electric.
Decatur, Michigan (our hometown) has not been hit by a tornado since 1956 (,
2012). In the event of a tornado the family is to obtain the disaster supply kit, relocate family members
and pets to the basement and remain in the basement until the tornado warning is over. The radio in the
supply kit can be used to listen to news reports tracking the location of the tornado.
Home Fire
According to the Centers for Disease Control (2012), approximately 85% of all fire deaths occur
in homes. To protect my family from a house fire, I have installed smoke detectors throughout the house
near bedrooms on each floor. Our family created a floor plan with escape routes and we have identified
two escape routes from each room in our home (See Appendix A). According to Michigan Prepares
(2012), availability of a fire response team is extremely important to save your home in the event of a fire.
Our home is located 7 miles from the closest fire department. Therefore, in the case of a small fire,
knowing how to use a fire extinguisher could possibly prevent a disaster from occurring. Each member of
the family should be educated on how to safely and correctly use a home fire extinguisher (Centers for
Disease Control, 2012). Checking the batteries of smoke detectors is just as important as creating a
disaster supply kit. In the event of separation during a fire, my family will plan to meet by the mailbox at
the end of our driveway.
Utility Shutoff and Safety
During a disaster or evacuation we may need to shut down our water and/or electric within the
house. If this were to happen, it is important that all family members know how to do these tasks
correctly and safely. Turning off the water supply can be done two ways, either by shutting of the electric
to the pump or by the well pump shut off valve, which is located on the pipe between the well head and
the well pump. To shut off the electricity, the main breaker on the electrical panel needs to be turned off.
The breaker panel is located at the top of the basement stairway and the well pump in the right far corner
of the basement.
Disaster Supply Kit
My disaster supply kit includes essential supplies, food, and water to meet my family’s needs for 3
days. Three days worth of supplies are recommended because this is the average length of time it may
take emergency teams to respond in the event of a disaster. Tenner, Goodwin & Veenema (2007), state
“stocking water reserves should be a top priority and should not rationed, therefore it is critical to store
adequate amounts of water for your household.” My disaster supply kit will include two five gallon
containers of water, which covers the recommendation of 1 gallon per day per person, plus cover the need
of my two cats. Supplies will be dated and kept in water/air tight containers or baggies then stored in
backpacks labeled disaster supply.
Our family disaster supply kit will be stored on the top shelf to the right of the garage for quick
accessibility in case of an evacuation or other disaster event. To ensure that my disaster supply kit
maintains quality, I will check my supply kit for dates and repairs each daylight savings time and rotate or
replace items as necessary. Other supplies we should keep in our disaster kit include (Suwannee Valley
Electric Cooperative, 2012):
Canned meats, vegetables, and fruits
Plastic sealed crackers, chips, nuts and dried fruits
Utensils, can opener
First aid kit (band-aids, antiseptic, sterile gauze, tape, scissors, tweezers, protective gloves, roller
bandages, thermometers, cleansing agents, lubricant, sunscreen)
Medications (prescription inhaler, anti-diarrheal, Tylenol, antacid, syrup of ipecac, activated
charcoal, epinephrine pen)
Toiletries (feminine hygiene product, toilet paper, shampoo/conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush,
Clothing (1 change each of tee shirts, sweatpants, underwear and 10 pack of socks to be shared by
the family, also 1 pair each of hard soled shoes will be kept next to the supplies in the garage)
Bedding (3 sleeping bags, a towel, and some washcloths)
Tools and other items (flashlight, pocket knife, radio, extra batteries, signal flare, lighter, pliers,
duct tape, tarp, small tent- next to supply kit, small fire extinguisher, small propane tank, map of
Southwest Michigan/Northern Indiana)
Special Needs
Special considerations of my disaster plan include having medical supplies available for family
members with special needs. Medical conditions of my family members include asthma and allergies to
bee stings. Both have the potential to be life threatening if left untreated. Therefore, essential to my
disaster supply kit are an albuterol inhaler and an epinephrine pen. These medications are also kept in my
purse for emergency use. In the event of a disaster, my purse would be useful because I also carry money,
credit cards, medications, and insurance cards.
We have two family cats, Maxine and Little Boy. For the safety of both cats, they have
identification tags with name, address and phone number. Dry cat food will be kept in a sealed, plastic
container in the garage next to the family supply kit. Just as with our food and water supply, there will be
enough cat food and water to last for a minimum of 3 days. In the event my pets become lost during a
disaster or if I am in need of assistance for pet care or shelter, I can contact The Humane Society of
Southwest Michigan at 641 S. Crystal Ave. Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022 (269)-927-3303. Other
supplies necessary for our cats in a disaster include:
a pet carrier
2 leashes
Vet/immunization record
Arrangements for pets to stay away from home
Emergency Contacts
Family contacts both in and out of the area are important to have if my home is destroyed or if my
family has to evacuate the area. Depending on the location of the disaster, my family may be able to stay
close to home with relatives. If the disaster is widespread, we may have to leave the area and stay with
out of state relatives. If there was no one my family can stay with, I could contact The American Red
Cross to help find emergency shelter. The Red Cross can also provide help with supplies, evacuation
routes, and emergency medical care and response in the event of a disaster (American Red Cross, 2007).
My local chapter of the American Red Cross can also help to find resources out of state in the event of an
Local Family Contact 1
Out of State Family Contact
Pam and Dave West
Debbie and Dave Bartz
317 West Saint Mary’s Street
102 Main Street
Decatur Michigan 49045
Charleston Illinois
My Local American Red Cross
Berrien County Chapter
3838 Niles Road
St. Joseph, Michigan 49085
Meeting Places & Communication Plan
In the event of a disaster, each member of my family should first attempt to contact other family
members by their personal cell phone. If cell phone connection is unavailable, the family priority meeting
location is our home. In the event our family home is destroyed, in danger, or inaccessible, the family is
to meet at Pam and Dave West’s home, our local family contact. The West’s home is located 8 miles
north in the Village of Decatur. This location is familiar to all family members.
If the disaster necessitates an evacuation, all family members will meet at the home and evacuate
together. If any family member is not at home, priority is to contact by telephone to make arrangements
for transportation. All disaster supplies will be placed in the vehicle and emergency contacts will be
reached to begin making plans for shelter. Evacuation routes can be obtained through the Michigan State
Police or National Road Closure and Traffic Websites. We can also stay informed by listening to the
local radio station for the latest road closure updates. As long as communication means are intact, we can
also use the GPS on our cell phones for driving directions. I can use social networking sites to track
friends and neighbors in need of evacuation assistance.
Back Up Plan
In the case a family member can not be contacted directly by cell phone. Our communication
backup plan is that all family members are to call the out of state contact to let them know we are okay.
Also, a personal size disaster kit will be kept in all family members vehicles in case a family member
becomes stranded or has to evacuation prior to retrieving the main disaster supply kit (American Red
Cross, 2007).
Preparing for a disaster is an important step a person can take to protect the safety and well-being
of the family. When disaster strikes, the family should be able to respond to protect each others basic
needs. This household disaster plan covers the most important steps in the planning process for
emergencies. It is important to remember communication between the family members is a priority to
make the plan work. Designing and practicing this plan along with family helps to cope in the case of a
disaster event.
American Red Cross (2007). Family disaster plan. Retrieved May 21, 2012 from
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012). Emergency Preparedness and Response. Retreived
May 21, 2012 from
Entergy Palisades (2011). Emergency preparedness 2009-2010. Retrieved May 18, 2012 from,%20Berr,Allegan%20Co.pdf
Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA (2012). Home fires. Retrieved May 21, 2012 from (2012). Decatur Tornado Information. Retrieved May 25, 2012 from
Michigan Committee for Severe Weather Awareness (2011). 2010-2011 Winter Storm Review. Retrieved
May 25, 2012 from
Michigan Prepares (2012). Protecting your family and community. Retrieved May 21, 2012 from,4621,7-232-42659---,00.html
Suwannee Valley Electrical Cooperative (2010). Family Disaster Plan: Sample family disaster plan.
Retrieved May 25, 2012 form
Tenner, Goodwin & Veenema. (2007). Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness for Chemical,
Biological and Radiological Terrorism and Other Hazards (2nd ed.). New York: Springer
Publishing Co.
Appendix A
Parish-Mann Home Floor Plan for 1100 ft2 Ranch
Key: Blue Star=Exterior Door, Red Star= Interior Door, Rectangle=Window

Emergency Preparedness Household Disaster Plan