McHenry County Department of Health - Emergency Preparedness & Response
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Family and Individual Preparedness

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The Four Basic Steps for Family and Individual Disaster Preparedness are:

1. Learn More About Preparedness

  • Prior to a disaster, identify and discuss potential dangers with your family
  • Research the disasters that could affect your community--consider both natural and man-made hazards
  • Find out what emergency alerts are in place in your community
  • Ask about emergency plans at work, schools, day-cares and other places your family spends time

2. Make a Family or Individual Plan


  • Decide how your family would respond to each potential hazard
    • Educate children about preparedness issues
    • Make plans for family members or friends with specific needs
    • Include pets in your emergency plan
    • For a template of what to include in your emergency plan, click here
  • Talk with your family about the possibility of evacuation (how, when, where)
  • Draw a floor plan of your home and mark two escape routes from each room
  • Identify two meeting places (one near your home and one outside of the neighborhood)
  • Determine how you would keep in touch, if separated
  • Designate an out-of-area contact and make sure everyone knows how to call this person
  • Post emergency numbers by your phones
  • Make sure everyone knows how to shut off the electricity, gas, and water at the main switches
  • Review home insurance policy coverage before an emergency
  • Practice your plan at least once a year and be certain that everyone knows what to do in each situation
3. Build an Emergency Kit

  • An emergency kit contains supplies that will help sustain your family after a disaster
  • Consider having emergency kits for:
    • Shelter-in-place--at a minimum have supplies to support your family for 72 hours
    • Evacuation or "go-bag"--leave this kit in a place where you can easily grab it and go
    • Vehicle--a kit that you store in your vehicle in case you get stranded
  • Customize your kits to the needs of each person in your household.  Don't forget about the specific needs of infants, kids, pets, and seniors!
4. Get Involved
  • Be a part of the community planning process--check with schools, daycare centers and churches to see if they have response plans in place
  • Join or start a preparedness project--consider working with Boy or Girl Scout troops, 4-H clubs or other local groups
  • Talk with your neighbors to see if any might need additional help after a disaster
  • Volunteer with the Medical Reserve Corps or other service organizations
More Family Emergency Planning Information Can be Found at the Following Sites


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