Family Disaster Plan
What to do
- Meet with your family and explain the need for a Family Disaster Plan. Explain to all members, including children, the likely threats and the dangers of each.
- Explain to each family member what he or she should do during a disaster event.
- As a family locate a safe place in your house to shelter for each type of hazard.
- Designate a friend or relatives house as an alternative shelter if a member of your family is unable to make it home when a hazard threatens or you are not allowed to return to your house due to an evacuation of your area. This should also be the place you self evacuate to in the event your area has to be evacuated. All family members should know the name of the occupants, their address and telephone number. If you have pets ensure that you can bring your pets as well.
- Develop an emergency communications plan. In the event that family members become separated, as can happen with the swift onset of an event such as flooding during the day when parents are to work and children at school, have a plan for getting back together.
- Arrange for an out of town relative or friend to be your family contact point. This is the person, living well away from you, who you will contact to provide information on how you have fared during the disaster and the condition of the family. This person will then inform all other relatives and friends of your situation. They also become the focal point for inquiries as to your welfare from others.
- Make sure every family member has a clear idea of what will be required if an evacuation notice is issued. What they must do and what the family must do to make their way to safety.
- Produce check-lists of action to take in preparation for specific disaster events.
- Place emergency telephone numbers clearly near the phone. Teach children to ring 000 in an emergency.
- Create an Emergency Kit
- Document your Family Disaster Plan and practice it with the whole family.
- Tell children that a disaster is something that happens that could hurt people, cause damage, or cut off things such as electricity, water and telephones. Explain to them that nature sometimes provides “too much of a good thing” such as rain, wind and fire. Talk about things that the children can relate to such as loss of power or no water. Watch television programs on natural hazards with them and explain that is what can happen and discuss with them their impressions.
- Give examples of disasters that could happen in your area. Help children recognise the warning signs of the disaster that could affect your community. Talking about disaster, with them, ahead of time will reduce the fear and anxiety when an event does occur and lets them know how to respond.
- Teach your children how to ring 000 in a life threatening emergency or when parents are incapacitated.
- Have your children undertake a first aid or CPR course.
- Tell children about the many people who will help them during a disaster. Explain the roles of the various emergency services and support agencies and how your children can identify them.
- Teach your children to call the family contact if they become separated during a disaster event. Help them memorise the telephone number or give it to them on a card they can keep with them
Prepare your pet for disasters
- Check with animal refuges, animal boarding facilities, vets and Council on whether they can provide accommodation for your pets in the event of an evacuation.
- Contact hotels and motels outside of the threat area and check on their policies for accepting pets and any restrictions on size, species etc. Ask if pet policies can or will be waived during disaster events.
- Make arrangements to board your pets at an animal boarding facility for the duration of the event.
- Check with vets, RSPCA, animal welfare groups and Council to identify if any Emergency Pet Shelters are to be established during disaster events. Add the contact details to your emergency contact list.
- Ask friends or relatives outside of the affected area to house and care for your pets. Preferably this should be the place that you have self evacuated your family to.
- Buy a pet carrier that allows your pet to stand up and move around. Make sure your pet is comfortable with the carrier by training them to enter and spend time in it.
Need a pet carrier?
If you do not have a pet carrier small to medium animals can be carried in their cages, pillowcases or in secure boxes with air holes.
- Check with your local pet store for a small tank to transport your fish in with attached battery operated aerator. A battery operated aerator, and bucket, of the type used by fisherman to keep live bait alive will also be adequate. If you have no other option put your fish into a large wide necked jar, two-thirds filled, with a secure lid and aerate by gently blowing through a straw. Remove the lid when stationary to allow for some air saturation.
- Frogs need a small covered container with 2.5cm of water in the bottom and airholes in the top.
- Snakes and lizards need to be put in a container with a secure lid and airholes, or a sack/pillowcase.
Before an event
If your pet is on medication ensure you have an adequate supply to cover a disaster event.
- Have your pet wear an identification tag listing your name, address and telephone number.
- If your pet normally wears a choker collar have a separate leather or nylon collar available for wear during disaster events. This is to ensure no injury is caused to your pet during stressful conditions.
- Keep your pet’s immunisation shots up to date and have all records available to take with you if you have to evacuate. Boarding facilities, Emergency Animal Shelters, etc will not take pets without records of immunisations.
- In your family emergency kit have extra supplies of dry pet food, kitty litter, food and water feeders/containers and extra mediation.
- Consider a muzzle for your dog, as the stress of disaster events will affect animals as well leading to normally placid animals becoming aggressive.
- Have recent photos of pets available to help with identification in the event you become separated from them.
Leaving your pets behind
If you have to leave pets behind when you evacuate consider the following:
- Place each pet in a separate room. Even pets that normally get on well together may become aggressive towards each other under the stress. Do not tie them up.
- Leave their normal bedding with them as well as any favourite toys to help control any anxiety being felt by your pets.
- Small rooms, without windows, which are easy to clean such as toilets and bathrooms are most appropriate.
- If there is a threat of flooding or storm surge leave chairs, tables, benches etc which will allow your pet to gain height.
- Leave two or three days of dry food in a large heavy container that is difficult to knock over.
- Leave water in a sturdy container that is difficult to knock over. A tap left slowly dripping can replenish water supplies in a container and large dogs may be able to drink from a partially filled bathtub.
- Birds must eat daily to survive. Check with your vet on suitable food dispensers that regulate supply.
- Leave a notice on the outside and inside of your door advising emergency services personnel of which animals they are likely to encounter and in which rooms. Also leave the details of where you can be contacted.
After an event
- After the event, if you cannot return to your home, contact Council to find out what arrangements have been made to reunite pets with owners.
- If you have to leave the area after a disaster event take your pets with you, as they cannot survive without you.
- Keep them leashed and in close contact with you for a period after the event until they settle into their new surroundings and routine.
- The behaviour of pets can change remarkably after a disaster event. Be alert to changes and seek advice from the vet as necessary.