When a tornado, power outage, hurricane, or other emergency strikes, having a plan in place can help you and your family spring into action.
If you haven’t considered what you would do in a disaster scenario, this guide walks you through the steps you can take to proactively prepare and stay in the know.
Why Should You Have a Home Emergency Plan?
Emergencies can strike at any time. And while some may come with advanced warnings, giving you some time to prepare, others happen unexpectedly. Having a plan can empower you to take the right steps when it matters most and ensure you have all the essentials on hand, from non-perishable food for your family and pets to emergency medical supplies and contact information.
How to Create Your Home Emergency Plan
These critical steps can help cover your bases during a range of emergencies.
Identify the Types of Emergencies to Prepare For
The region you live in impacts the disasters you’re most likely to encounter. Consider which scenarios are most likely to affect you and your family, such as these examples from the American Red Cross:
If you’re unsure which emergencies you’re most likely to experience, you can use this tool to learn about the risks in your region.
Think About Your Family’s Needs
Whether an emergency leaves you without power at home or requires an evacuation, you’ll need a disaster kit with basic necessities, like food, water, flashlights, and first aid supplies. In addition to the essentials, think about items you may need to pack for each family member, including furry ones.
The CDC recommends packing documents (such as vet records and vaccination lists), food, water, medications, and other essentials for your pets. Ready.gov lists extra supplies you may need for babies or young children, like formula, children’s medication, diapers and wipes, pacifiers, and games for babies and young children. If you live with people with disabilities, they also recommend ensuring you have extra medical supplies, batteries for medical devices, and supplies for service animals, if necessary. Older adults may need hearing aid batteries, glasses, medications, walking aids like walkers or canes, and other medical items, according to the National Institute on Aging.
While you pack special supplies, Ready.gov also suggests thinking about how you’ll get everyone out of the house if necessary. Designate an adult to lead children outside, and decide who will assist elderly family members, pets, and loved ones with disabilities. Map out the most accessible exit ahead of time for family members who use wheelchairs or have mobility challenges.
Assign Responsibilities to Each Household Member
Giving family members a specific task to complete in an emergency can help ensure nothing gets missed. The American Red Cross recommends identifying responsibilities for each family member to determine how you’ll work together. Some of these responsibilities may include:
Put a Plan on Paper
Once you have considered your family’s needs and determined how to delegate tasks during an emergency, it’s time to finalize your plan on paper. To simplify the process, you can use fillable online emergency plan tools from Ready.gov or the American Red Cross. Some of the most important things to include are:
Stay Connected and Alert
Whether you’re home or safely sheltered in another town, the Neighbors App by Ring provides a simple way to receive critical local updates, connect with your neighbors, and even request help. If you need extra batteries for your weather radio, for example, you can make a post on the app to try and locate someone who can help.
If you’re instructed to shelter in place during an emergency, having a security system can also help you and your family feel safe. With a Ring Alarm security system and a Ring Protect subscription, sold separately, you don’t need power or internet for your system to stay temporarily operable.1
The Base Station’s backup battery keeps Ring Alarm powered during an outage or storm for up to 24 hours. With a Ring Alarm Pro Base Station, you can also connect up to three Power Packs, sold separately, with each one providing up to eight extra hours of power for an additional 24 hours total, depending on use. Alarm Cellular Backup, included in your Ring Protect Pro subscription, enables your sensors to continue triggering the Alarm and sending alerts to your phone, and you can even get backup internet for other devices with Alarm Pro.1 If you’re enrolled in 24/7 Alarm Professional Monitoring, the professional monitoring center will also continue to receive alerts and can request assistance on your behalf.2
Ring Alarm can also offer extra peace of mind when you evacuate your home or are away when a disaster occurs. With a Ring Protect subscription, sold separately, you’ll get alerts from any environmental sensors connected to your Alarm, also sold separately, while it’s armed and online. For example, your Smoke and CO Listener can alert you to a potential fire or gas leak, and Flood & Freeze Sensors can detect if a hurricane or flood has reached your home. If a glass window shatters during a tornado or earthquake, a nearby Glass Break Sensor can detect the sound and trigger the Alarm. You can also check Live View from your indoor and outdoor Ring cameras to get extra visibility into what’s happening at home.
Practice, Practice, Practice
According to the American Red Cross, an emergency shouldn’t be the first time you put your plan into action. They recommend practicing two times a year to identify any roadblocks and see if there’s anything your plan doesn’t address for various scenarios, like a house fire, power outage, or common natural disasters in your area. When you’re practicing an evacuation, don’t stop when you make it outside — pack up the car and practice driving to your evacuation place, so your entire family is familiar with the route.
Download the Neighbors App for Critical Emergency Updates
Staying in the know is a vital part of your home emergency plan — and the Neighbors App is a convenient source of information during emergencies, from winter storms to wildfires. You and your neighbors can share hyper-local updates from your neighborhood, and you’ll see real-time information about outages, severe weather, and other emergencies affecting your area.
@eastcoastdiy #ad Here’s my Hurricane Ian story. The only way I was able to see my house was through my @Ring cameras and the Neighbors App! #goodneighboreveryday ♬ original sound - East Coast DIY
Download the Neighbors App today to help you reach invaluable information during a disaster in just a few clicks.
1 Ring Alarm and all Ring Alarm accessories require a subscription for in-app features and digital notifications, including digital arming / disarming and integration with other Ring, Echo, Alexa, and third party products. Subscription sold separately. View ring.com/protect-plans for pricing and details.
2 A compatible Ring Protect subscription is required to enroll in the Ring Alarm professional monitoring service. Professional monitoring service is available only within the U.S. (all 50 states, but not U.S. territories) and in Canada (excluding Quebec). Ring does not own its own professional monitoring center. Smoke and carbon monoxide monitoring is not available for a business or commercially zoned address. See Ring alarm licenses at: ring.com/licenses. Additional permit or false alarm fees may apply depending on your local jurisdiction. Additional charges may apply in areas that require permits or guard response service for alarm verification.