The most important thing you can do for your family is to create an Emergency Family Plan. The adults can sit together to create your plan then get the whole family involved. This way everyone knows what it is each person has to do.
A disaster can strike at anytime with or without warning, so the best thing you can do is be prepared if and when it happens. There are several steps you can follow that can make things a lot easier for you.
The first thing you can do is research. Find out what hazards and disaster could happen in your area. You can call your local emergency management office or the Red Cross. Make sure you have pen and paper ready and prepare to take notes. Don't be afraid to ask questions, ask them how you can prepare. That's their job to help and give you the right information.
Find out what your community warning system sounds like. I remember the sirens going off in the winter when we didn't have school. Awe the good O days. Find out what you need to do if you hear them. Ask where are the nearest shelters and get a map and mark them down.
Find out about your work, children's school or anywhere your family spends time, what their emergency plans are.
Once you have your information you can start creating your family plan. Gather the family together and get to work. Give everyone a responsibility. Children will feel a bit more confident if you include them in your plan, even if you give them something simple to do. Make a map of your home; including who sleeps in what bedroom.
Pick meeting places at least 2. One where they can meet outside your home if there is a fire and another if you can't go back home. Have a family outside your state be your contact person. If you don't have anyone outside the state but in another county use them. When a disaster strikes local phone lines are usually tied up and can only be used for emergencies, so by having an outside contact you can contact them very easily. If you have a cell phone make sure it is charged at all times.
Next, make sure you have all emergency contact numbers, police, fire, EMS. Also include public utilities (gas/electric), phone company, emergency management office, Red Cross and hospitals.
Fire extinguishers: make sure your home has one and that everyone knows how to use it. (ABC types) and keep it where everyone can get to it.
Check your smoke detectors. Check the batteries and replace them if necessary. (Every General Conference time is a good time to do this.) Always make sure they are in working condition; if not replace them or have your landlord or building management replace them. It's the law that every apartment or home have smoke detectors. Practice your fire drills.
Also learn how to shut all utilities down. Know where to shut off your electricity, gas and water. Keep a wrench near your water shut off valve and furnace. If you do not know how to shut them off have landlord or public utility services teach you how to shut them off in an event of emergency. In a fire just make sure you are out do not worry about shutting anything off. Only your public utility service crew are allowed to turn your gas back on.
Discuss an evacuation plan. What exits are easily accessible. Never block these areas with anything. These are your emergency exits, keep them clear at all times. In your research you should have the name and address of the nearest shelter and have it posted on a map. Keep a copy of it in your emergency kit as well.
Go over the cleaning products you have in your home. Never store bleach and ammonia in the same area. Properly dispose any chemicals that you don't plan on using. Do it wisely and carefully. Store items away from children and safely locked away.
If you can find a CPR and First Aid training class, I suggest you take a course, especially if you have children.
Make sure you have all your necessary documents all in one place. Birth Certificates, Social Security cards, insurance paper, immunization records. Put them in a zip lock bag to waterproof them. Keep them with your emergency kit for when you have to evacuate you have them available. Or here's a little trick that I learned from my best friend who happens to be a fireman. Store them in your freezer. If you don't have a safe this is a great place. Why you ask? He told me when there is a fire the one item in your house that usually survives a fire and the items in them are basically untouched is the freezer. So you can put them in a zip lock and wrap in foil, if you don't want anyone to know what it is and safely store it in the back.
Know all your emergency channels, on TV and on the radio. For weather alerts, evacuations if necessary. If you lose power go to your battery-operated radio and go to the channel that they use to give you weather alerts or school closings.
Make a HELP/OK sign. Take 2 sheets of plain paper write HELP on one and OK on the other. If a disaster occurs and you are told to shelter in place and all is well put the OK sign on your window. That will let emergency personnel know that your home is ok. If you need assistance you or someone put the HELP sign on your window. And they will know you need assistance.
Make ID tags for everyone in the house. Include name, date of birth, weight and height, address, and phone number, Medical information, contact number, Social Security number and any allergies they may have. Make sure you have them carry one on their persons and have a copy for yourself.
If you have pets, make arrangements for them. The only animals allowed in public shelters are animals that people rely on, for example a seeing-eye dog for the blind. Also please remember in a disaster the life of a human will be put before that of an animal, so make arrangements for your pet. For more information on pets in disaster visit the United States Humane Society or the American Red Cross web sites. They have information on caring for your pets in an event of a disaster.