Resources & Insights

Creating a Family Emergency Plan

May 5, 2020

Matt Genova,
President, Personal Lines

Put aside the coronavirus for a moment, if you can. The fact of the matter is that calamities, natural and otherwise, are part of our everyday lives. Well, perhaps not every day, but floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, ice storms and earthquakes are unfortunately fairly common occurrences.

Despite that, many of us fail to plan ahead, to prepare.

Having a family emergency plan is a good way to do that. Members of your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it’s important to create a plan in advance. What follows are tips for creating just such an emergency plan:

Phone numbers. Post emergency numbers in a central place where they won’t be missed. Include the numbers for police, fire, poison control, school, work, child care and important relatives. Include your home address for quick reference, especially by children, since emergency respondents will need to know where to find you.

An emergency contact. If you can, pick an out-of-state relative as your family’s emergency contact, someone who lives in an area far enough away to have escaped being affected by whatever disaster might have struck your city or town. They’ll be the point person everyone in your family calls or texts to explain where they are in the event of a disaster.

Escape routes. Go through each room of your home and plan the quickest and safest escape route. Make sure each member of your family knows the plan for each room and how to put that plan into action should they need to make a quick escape.

Emergency meeting spots. Just to be on the safe side, choose three spots — one near your home, (in  case of a fire), one outside your neighborhood, (perhaps the fire station or a relative’s home), and one out-of-town location, in case you need to evacuate.

Pet plan. You’ll want to think ahead about your four-legged family members. Make sure you have any necessary pet carriers and plenty of food and water on hand to take with you.

Important documents. Put your important documents in a plastic bag and keep them in a fireproof and waterproof evacuation box for easy grabbing. Here’s a list of the kind of documents you’ll want to have for your emergency plan:

  • A copy of each family member’s driver’s license and passport.
  • Each family member’s Social Security card or number.
  • A copy of each family member’s birth certificate.
  • A copy of everyone’s medical records and list of vaccinations, including your pet’s.
  • Property titles for your car and home.
  • All of your bank, credit card and investment account numbers and corresponding customer service telephone numbers.
  • Health insurance and life insurance account information.
  • Photographs or videos of all of your property to make potential insurance claims easier.
  • Wills, as well as living wills and a power of attorney.
  • Your latest tax return.
  • Your marriage certificate.
  • Adoption and citizenship papers.
  • Military records.
  • Medications and eyeglass prescriptions.
  • Important files backed up on an external hard-drive.
  • Copies of your favorite family photographs.

Prepare a “go-bag.” This ready-to-go supply kit can help your family leave home quickly without having to worry about packing up too many necessities.  You’ll want:

  • At least three days of water for every member of the family.
  • Non-perishable food options, like nuts, canned goods and granola bars.
  • Changes of clothing and footwear for each member of the family.
  • Sleeping bags or rolled blankets.
  • First-aid kit supplies.
  • Emergency supplies, such as a battery-operated radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, duct tape, plastic bags, water purification tablets, local maps and a compass, aluminum foil, matches and a can opener.
  • Basic tools, like pliers, a wrench, an axe and a utility knife.
  • Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, feminine products, extra eyeglasses and contact lens solution.
  • Money, including a few personal checks.

What else can I do to ensure emergency preparedness?

  • Teach each family member who is old enough how and when to turn off utilities (water, gas, oil and electricity) at the main switches.
  • Make sure each floor of your home has a smoke detector (with up-to-date batteries) and a fire extinguisher.
  • Get in the habit of making sure your car has half a tank of gas in it at all times so you won’t have to worry about refilling if you need to make an emergency exit.
  • Maintain adequate insurance on your car, home and property.

You may not be able to keep disasters from happening, but you can control how you prepare for them. Get that family meeting scheduled today and draw up your emergency plan.

Matt Genova is the President of CCIG’s Personal Lines department. Reach him at or at 720-330-7936.

CCIG is a Denver-area insurance, employee benefits and surety brokerage with clients nationwide. We do more than make sure you have the right policy. We help you manage your long-term cost of insurance with our risk and claims management expertise and a commitment to service excellence.

Resource: FEMA Family Communication Plan

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