By: Mary Shepherd, Partner Family Coordinator

Several weeks ago Summit County experienced excessive rain and nearby areas were flooded. In mid-August, Summit County experienced high winds which uprooted trees and caused home damage and electric outages. Summit County periodically experiences thunderstorms, snowstorms and tornadoes.  Disasters can strike with little notice, and it’s important to be prepared and have a plan in place to protect home and family.

To prepare for disasters, households should have a family preparedness plan, a family communications plan, and a disaster supply kit. The family preparedness plan includes locations of safe places inside and outside of the home to stay during a disaster, the best evacuation routes from the home if the family needs to leave, and a list of emergency contacts such as friends, family, police, and fire department. Discuss the need for home safety with the family, practice the safety plan, and review the plan with the family several times a year.

A family communications plan is important for members of the household so they can keep track of each other, contact emergency agencies in a timely way, and update friends and extended family.  Members of the household should have a list of emergency contacts and access to a phone. Children should be able to recite their address and phone number and should be instructed how and when to contact 911 for help. A cell phone should be available to send text messages, which can often get around network disruptions when phone calls cannot, and to pick up alert notices.  After a disaster, a member of the household should contact family members and register the household as “safe and well” on the American Red Cross website to let friends and family know the family is safe.

A disaster survival kit includes supplies the family will need in the event of a disaster. It should be easy to carry and can be used at home or taken with the family in case of evacuation. Pre-assembled kits can be purchased or kits may be put together at home. Be sure the kit is prepared well before a disaster strikes, and check supplies every three months. Include provisions for pets if they are part of the household and include all pets in the overall preparedness plan.  For more information about assembling a disaster survival kit, go to

A disaster is a challenging experience.  Being prepared in advance will go a long way in enabling your family to meet the challenge.

Information for this article was obtained at