Develop a Family Communications Plan.
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another and review what you will do in different situations.
Consider a plan where each family member calls, or e-mails, the same friend or relative in the event of 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 each person knows the phone number and has coins or a prepaid phone card to call the emergency contact. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may be down altogether, but be patient.
Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the attack, the first important decision is whether you stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is immediate danger. Watch television and listen to the radio for official instructions as they become available.
* Printer-friendly Family Emergency Plan
Create a Plan to Shelter-in-Place.
There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as sheltering-in-place and sealing the room can be a matter of survival.
If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place and seal the room. Consider precutting plastic sheeting to seal windows, doors and air vents. Each piece should be several inches larger than the space you want to cover so that you can duct tape it flat against the wall. Label each piece with the location of where it fits. Use all available information to assess the situation.
If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place.
Quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors and close windows, air vents and fireplace dampers. Immediately turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal all windows, doors and vents. Understand that sealing the room is a temporary measures to create a barrier between you and contaminated air. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the Internet for instructions.
Create a Plan to Get Away.
Plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.
If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it at all times. Become familiar with alternate routes as well as other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Take your emergency supply kit, unless you have reason to believe it is contaminated and lock the door behind you. Take pets with you if you are told to evacuate, however, if you are going to a public shelter, keep in mind they may not be allowed inside. If you believe the air many be contaminated, drive with your windows and vents closed and keep the air conditioning and heater turned off. Listen to the radio for instructions.
Know emergency plans at school and work. Think about the places where your family spends time: school, work and other places your family frequents. Talk to your children's schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency.
If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan. Review and practice it with your employees. A community working together during an emergency also make sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together.