Emergency Plan | Household Emergency Plan Writing

Home Emergency Plan | Make a Household Plan

Home Emergency Plan | Make a Household Plan


What is an Emergency Plan or Household Emergency Plan?

A Household Plan or Emergency Plan is a basic emergency checklist that lets everyone in the household know what to do in an emergency, no matter where they are when it happens, and how to get ready for it. Once your plan is completed, ensure all members of the household have access to a copy, include one in each of your Survival Kits or Emergency Kits and keep one on your phone is you have one so it can always be available to you.


Remember to review your plan at least once or year, or whenever the household situation changes, such as moving house, a new baby in the house or even if you get a new pet in the house. Remember, if it is not safe for you to remain and shelter in place, then it is not safe for your pets also.


Why is it important to have an emergency plan in your household?


New Zealand's geographical location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and surrounded by oceans with rapidly changeable weather conditions, makes it highly vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunami, volcanic eruptions, fires, and severe storms with flooding and landslides. New Zealand has been subject to many life changing natural disasters over the years, many of which have seen loss of life, and caused thousands to be uprooted and displaced from their homes.


Such events can happen at any time, when you’re sleeping, or when some family members are at work and school or elsewhere. Nature does not discriminate and as such you need a plan so your whole family knows what to do, wherever they are, when disaster strikes,. Having a Household Emergency Plan is an incredibly important step, not only does it help you prepare for an emergency, but it also can also help you cope better with any emergency or disaster situation that may arise. Making a plan may seem daunting at first, but it can be a great family bonding exercise and it is something all members of the household should get involved with.

What to include in your Emergency Plan?


  • A list of all the members of your household, including pets and other animals. - Include their names, dates of birth and consider descriptions or photos of your animals in case they get scare off or become separated during an event.


  • Personal Contact Phone Numbers. - Ensure you have contact details for all members of your household in your plan, including their mobile phone numbers and work numbers if they have one.


  • Other important Phone Numbers. - You should include any other important contact numbers in your plan, such as Emergency Services, it is amazing how in times of high stress, something as simple as this can be forgotten. Also consider your local Council's emergency phone number, you can find these on the Civil Defence Emergency Management Website (CDEM). Consider also your power company, gas company, insurance company, children's day care phone number as well as close family members and any other emergency contacts you may have.


  • Local Radio Station Frequencies, Websites and Social Media Channels. - Check out your local CDEM Page and find out what your local radio frequencies are for the area, and who it is that broadcasts emergency updates. Also consider noting and saving some of your social media pages where you can get updates on unfolding situations. Remember cell phones may go down, but AM/FM Radio will be a priority for local councils and the government, as they are a vital link in keeping people updated. Remember to include a reliable AM/FM Radio in your Emergency Kit or Survival Kit so that you can keep updated, and ensure you have spare batteries. Also consider subscribing to any emergency alerting services such as Lert Info, who offer both a paid and free alerting subscription. They provide an exceptional service and as noted offer a free email based alerting system which is exceptional.


  • Know how to turn off your gas, power and hot water. - Only turn these off if you suspect a leak or damaged lines or if you are instructed to do so by authorities. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.


  • Include where you will meet if you can't get home or if you are unable to make contact with each other. - Where will you meet if you are unable to get home? Have a meeting place prepared and know how to get there even if you have to make it there on foot. If the cell phones go down then you will not have access to GPS and Maps. It is sometimes possible to download off line maps on your phone which is a good back up plan, but also consider having a paper map of the city or area you live in, and know how to get there. Practice walking to this meeting place with your family. Record the location, and consider instructions for walking there from locations such as the house, work or school. If you have children, know how to get there too, and who might be able to pick them up in an emergency if you can't get there. Make sure the school has them on their paperwork, otherwise they may not release them to an unknown person.
  • Where will you go if you need to evacuate?. - Where you will go in case you have to evacuate? How will you get there? If you live near the coast, make sure it is outside of all tsunami evacuation zones. Where will you stay if you can’t get back to your home? You can check your local CDEM Page to find out more about Tsunami Risk in your area, where higher ground it, and how to get there. Also you can check out where the local emergency evacuation centres are also.


  • Consider those with any special requirements in your household. - If there is anyone in your household who has any special requirements, such as the need for mobility devices or medical devices, then this is very important to consider. How will they get where they need to go, and who will assist them with it if needed? If there is anyone who is reliant on medical equipment or medicines, then do they have the ability to function during a disaster? How will they be powered? What will they do if the doctors are closed or the chemist is shut? Ensure they have a small stock pile on hand for this situation, three days worth at a minimum. If their medical devices are reliant on power, then what do you have planned if the power is out for a sustained period of time. These are all important considerations.


  • Where is your emergency kit or survival kit, and how can you get to it? - Ensure you make note of where the kits are located and how to get to them, even if this is in the dark. Ensure you have a good torch or headlamp available in case a disaster strikes at night time and the power goes out. If you need to evacuate in a hurry, then known where your grab bags are. They should all be stored in a location that is easy to access, and everyone in the household should know the location and how to get to them.


  • Do you have emergency supplies and how will you ration them should the need arise? - Make a list of what you have on hand, and how you are going to ration this during an emergency. At a bare minimum you should have enough to last each member of the household, including pets and children, for three days. Food stuffs should be long life and easy to prepare, and if you are stocking tinned items, then do not forget to pack a tin opener. The last thing you want to do is run short or run out. Now is a good time to discuss your likes and dislikes, during a disaster is not the time to find out you don't like something or can't eat it. Consider water and power as well, you may have little to none of either of these, so you need to keep this in mind when preparing your supplies.


  • Clean drinking water alternatives, and where to find them in the home if needed. - Clean drinking water is one of the essentials in an Emergency Kit. You should have this stored and rotate it on a yearly basis. That being said, there are some other possible alternatives that you can look to in some cases. Consider using the water from the toilet cistern, only if you are not using things like toilet ducks or toilet cleaners in the cistern. The water should still be treated. Also the water in your hot water cylinder should be ok to drink in most cases also. Turn the water off at the mains, as this will reduce the chance of any possibly tainted waters flowing back into the hot water cylinder or toilet cistern.


Do not forget these other essential steps


  • Print hard copies of your emergency plan to keep with your emergency kits. If you haven’t yet made a home emergency kit, doing so will make it easier to complete some parts of your plan. 


  • Email the Plan to everyone in your household. - Ensure everyone in the household has a copy of this with them at all times on their phone if they have one, and consider sending a copy to close family so they know your plans also.


  • Set a yearly reminder. - Once you have completed your plan, set a reminder for once a year and then go over the plan again, as well as your emergency kit. Things change all the time and you will need to ensure your plan changes with it. Especially if you change address, as there may be other potential disaster concerns in that area. Also if you change work places or addresses or if you have any additions to you family such as pets or other people joining the household. If you have a new baby or young children, don't forget them. Things like formular, extra water, nappies and wipes etc will be very important.


You can check out this link here for an online version of the Household plan done by Civil Defence Emergency Management CDEM and fill it out online for printing and saving or you can design your own. It does not have to be fancy, but any plan is better than none, and may say your life, and it will make coping with a disaster situation much easier to deal with. If you know someone in the community who does not have a plan and English is not their first language, then check out this link for the online plan in 21 other languages.


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