Prepare: Make a Plan


Do you know how to respond if disaster impacts your home or workplace? 

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance.

Answering these questions in advance will better prepare you for any emergency situation. If your family is in different locations when the disaster strikes, consider the following:

  • How will you contact one another?
  • How will you get back together?
  • What will you do in different situations?

Online Emergency Planner & App

Ready Nova was developed to assist residents and business owners in Northern Virginia to develop a Family Emergency Plan or a Business Emergency Plan through an easy to use online tool. The final plan can be saved as a PDF document and emailed to family, friends and colleagues.

mobile app

Communications Plan / Digital Preparedness

Make a digital preparedness kit. It may be difficult to communicate with family and friends through traditional means during and after an emergency.  Use these tips to help you connect with those that you care for after an emergency.

  • It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  • Be sure every member of your family knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact.
  • Save important phone numbers to your phone. Keep a copy in your emergency kit.
  • Avoid calling by phone. Plan to utilize text, email and social media to tell your friends and family you are OK.
  • You may have trouble getting through, or the telephone system may be down altogether, but be patient.
  • Complete a contact card for each family member.

Situational Planning Needs

Neighborhoods & Apartments:

  • Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
  • Find out if anyone has specialized equipment like a power generator, or expertise such as medical knowledge, that might help in a crisis.
  • Identify and decide who will check on elderly or disabled neighbors.
  • Make back-up plans for children and pets in case you can't get home in an emergency.
  • Sharing plans and communicating in advance is a good strategy.

 High Rise Buildings:

  • Note where the closest emergency exit is.
  • Be sure you know another way out in case your first choice is blocked.
  • Take cover against a desk or table if things are falling.
  • Move away from file cabinets, bookshelves or other things that might fall.
  • Face away from windows and glass.
  • Move away from exterior walls.
  • Determine if you should stay put, "shelter-in-place" or get away.
  • Listen for and follow instructions.
  • Take your emergency supply kit, unless there is reason to believe it has been contaminated.
  • Do not use elevators.
  • Stay to the right while going down stairwells to allow emergency workers to come up.

 In a Moving Vehicle:

  • If there is an explosion or other factor that makes it difficult to control the vehicle, pull over, stop the car and set the parking brake.
  • If the emergency could impact the physical stability of the roadway, avoid overpasses, bridges, power lines, signs and other hazards.
  • If a power line falls on your car you are at risk of electrical shock, stay inside until a trained person removes the wire.
  • Listen to the radio for information and instructions as they become available.
  • If a road is flooded, “turn around don’t drown”. 

Emergency Plan Tips

  • Inquire about the emergency plans for places where your family spends time: work, daycare and school.
  • Make back-up plans for children in case you can’t get home in an emergency.
  • Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together during an emergency.
  • Store important documents in a password-protected area, such as a flash drive, that you can keep readily available.
  • Personal and property insurance.
  • Identification: Driver's License/Passport (for yourself and family members).
  • Banking information.
  • Copy of utility bills.
  • Pet's veterinary documents and medical records.
  • Current photo of your pet to aid in identification if you are separated.

Related Information

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Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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