Emergency Contingency Plan

Have you ever thought about what you and your family members would do if disaster strikes and you have no way to communicate with each other? How would you know if everyone was okay? How would you be able to get to each other if the roads were impassable?
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Let’s just picture a scenario where there is an earthquake or some other natural disaster in your area. Your kids are at school, you are at work and your spouse is at home. The phone lines aren’t working and the power is out. You have no way to contact your family to make sure everyone is okay. So your first instinct is to go to your kid’s school and pick them up but then it hits you that maybe your spouse or other family member has already gotten the kids?

Then you wonder where they might be if something happened to your house and they had to leave. Or maybe they are trying to come to you at work? You think about heading to your house but then what if they aren’t at home? What if they’re not at a neighbor’s house? What if your whole neighborhood had to be evacuated? Then you start to wonder where your parents, siblings and other extended family might be and how you will get to them if you can’t communicate?

This is the worst possible position to be in when disaster strikes. You’re adrenaline is already kicked in and you’re ready to go get your family and protect them – but you don’t know where to go. It’s a scary thought huh? Something as simple as taking some time to write an emergency contingency plan can help protect you and your family from such an emotional tragedy. And ensure that you can all find each other and make it to safety should an emergency occur.

A contingency plan is the most important thing you and your family can have to be prepared for an emergency and should be a key element in your survival strategy. Here are some ideas to get you started:

1. Contact Information

Make a list of contact information for everyone in your family including phone #’s, addresses, place of work, email address, etc. Make a small list the size of a business card and laminate it so that everyone can carry it in their purse or wallet. This way it will be available at all times. No use in having all that information sitting in your cabinet at home if you’re at work or out running errands when disaster strikes.

2. Action Plan

Your action plan should include several scenarios that are likely to occur in your area. Natural disasters such as floods, earthquakes, tornados, etc. should be considered if you live in an area that is prone to such events. Write out several scenarios that might occur including what should happen if the phones are off, power is out, roads are impassable or any other worst-case-scenario you can think of. For example you might say something like if the phones are working, husband calls wife, wife calls parents, parents call other family members and depending on the circumstance, we decide where and when to meet up.

Or if the phones are not working: wife gets kids from school and goes home, Dad leaves work and goes straight home, other family members come to specified house as soon as possible. Make sure you are clear about where everyone is to meet up together in this circumstance. The last thing you want is for everyone to be confused about where to go and be worried sick if someone has been hurt, etc.

3. Back Up Plan

If the first selected location has been damaged or is unsafe, have a back up plan for a second location of retreat so that if anyone shows up the designated location and no one is there, they know what to do next. If no one is at house A then proceed to house B, and if no one is at house B proceed to location C which could be a central location to everyone. From there you can regroup and decide where to go next.

4. Bug Out Bags

Keep emergency backpacks for everyone in your family packed and ready to grab and go should you need to get out of the house in a hurry. These emergency packs should include things like food, water, clothing, first aid supplies, hygiene items, etc. If you’re reading this blog chances are you already have your bug out bag and you’re prepared for such a scenario, but unfortunately not everyone considers such things a priority. If you have family members that don’t see the value of this insurance policy (the bug out bag) consider getting them one for a gift. They may not appreciate it now but if an emergency happens and they need to use it they will definitely appreciate the gesture.

For a more detailed emergency preparedness checklist the Red Cross offers a very comprehensive planning guide as a free download at:

Red Cross Disaster Plan Template

***This article was contributed by Chrystle Poss a.k.a. “Survival Girl”, Owner of this Survival Blog and devoted Prepper. She has been writing articles on survival and emergency preparedness since 2006. You can find her work on various websites and publications.***

About The Author

Survival Spot is dedicated to helping everyone learn philosophy and fundamentals of preparedness and survival.

11 Responses

  1. Riverwalker

    A plan is an absolute necessity! You also need to consider having code phrases to alert family mebers and friends if there is an emergency. That way they will know it’s for real and not just a practice drill.
    Good lines of communication are also essential.

    Great post! Keep up the good work.


  2. Survival Spot

    Very true river walker, we haven’t created an “emergency” word but we should. For kids it’s a good idea to have a secret word too so they know who’s in the family, if its ok to talk to or be with an adult. This can be handy if say an uncle needs to pick them up from school in an emergency but they’re not very familiar with that family member.

  3. Beacon Survival

    This is a post that gives us a great general idea of how we can be prepared as a family for an emergency. Something I might add is placing updated pictures of every family member in the bug out bags. These can come in handy when trying to locate a family member at an aid station or community gather location.

  4. Patrick Krupka

    Beacon, you’re right about the pictures, and having emergency wallet cards for each member of the family helps too…personal emergency info on one side, and family disaster plan info on the back (2 local meeting places, out of town contacts, evacuation route, etc) I would consider saving a lot of your information on a flash drive and put it in your bug out bag. If you want them to be password protected, try using a site like MyDisasterPlan.com. We also have some nice, concise fact sheets about various disasters and kits.

  5. Survival Podcast

    Excellent post! The need for planning is so essential and to involve all parties more so. Many times a family has only one member that takes such things seriously, that is why I put so much emphasis on documentation of planning, contact numbers, etc.

    When you document everything in print and make sure everyone has it then even the family members that seem to think there is nothing to worry about will know what to do when something goes wrong.

    Note I said when, not if, something will always go wrong it is just a matter of when and how bad. Some problems are small, some pretty big and the potential for a true SHTF is always out there.

  6. esvl

    Great article. I think the bug out bags are one of the most important parts of survival in a natural disaster. Much needed even if its not used.

  7. sok noni

    Thanks For This Post, was added to my bookmarks.

  8. kosmetyki

    You certainly deserve a round of applause for your post and more specifically, your blog in general. Very high quality material

  9. Benton Hylands

    Undeniably believe that which you said. Your favorite justification appeared to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people think about worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks


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