Make a Plan

Talk through different emergency situations with your family, and make a plan for each. Below we have some points to get you thinking about evacuations, power outages, and how to prepare for those in your family with disabilities. After your family makes a plan, don’t forget to practice!


A variety of emergencies could cause an evacuation. 

Before an Evacuation

Create a family evacuation plan in a few easy steps:

  1. Know where to go. There are two types of routes to create plans for: routes out of the house (during a house fire or flood) and routes out of town for an incoming weather event.
  2. Create a family communication plan. Know how you will contact each other and where you will meet if separated.
  3. Know what to bring. Pack your disaster kit, plus any specific add-on items. Each member of the household should have their own disaster kit.
Kit says it's helpful to make evacuations lists in advance for family members.

During an Evacuation

Some evacuations will come with a day or two of warning, others may provide no warning at all. It’s ideal to have a few plans in mind depending on how much time you have.

1. If you have a few hours or days:

  • Have alerts set up from multiple systems and make sure your notifications are on.
  • Have your family emergency kits ready, and put them in your car.
  • Make sure you know where you are going and the best way to get there.
  • Have pets nearby and ready to go.
  • If a flood is incoming, move valuable items to upper levels in your house.
  • Prepare farm animals for transport.
  • Leave early enough to avoid severe weather.
  • Let out-of-town family members know where you are going.

2. If you only have a few minutes:

  • Grab your emergency kit and pets and evacuate.

3. If you have no time:

  • The highest priority in an evacuation is to get yourself and loved ones to safety as soon as possible. If you need to evacuate immediately (for example, during a house fire) leave all belongings and get to safety!
Elton says that if there's a fire to leave all belongings and get out right away!

Power Outages

Extended power outages can affect the whole community. They can affect transportation, businesses, and community services. Outages also can cause food to spoil and the inability to use medical devices.

Before an Outage

  • Think about your medical needs. Figure out what essential items run on electricity, and what you would do during an outage
  • Stock batteries
  • Store food
  • Create a contact list
  • Sign up for alert systems
  • Check smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
  • Use surge protectors
  • Create and maintain an emergency kit

During an Outage

  • Keep freezer and refrigerators closed.
  • Unplug electronics and appliances to protect them from power surges.
  • Check with local officials about heating and cooling locations nearby. 
  • Keep alert notifications on.

After an Outage

  • For refrigerated food, when in doubt, throw it out! If refrigerated food is exposed to temperatures 40 degrees or higher for 2+ hours, don’t eat it.
  • Check medication.
  • Avoid downed power lines. 
  • Avoid flooded areas. 
Camila reminds us that it sometimes takes a while for power to come back on after going out.

Individuals with Disabilities

1. Identify disasters you are most likely to face. In Williamson County, most likely hazards include flooding and severe storms. Find out more about local hazards here.

2. Tips based on disability

  • People who are hard of hearing may need extra hearing aid batteries
  • Those who are blind may need to mark emergency supplies and communication devices with braille labels
  • Videos from on personal disaster preparedness for those who are in wheelchairs, hard of hearing, and blind can be viewed here.

3. Wear medical alert tags or bracelets.

4. Think about any extra items you may need to include in your emergency kit. has this list of items to add to emergency kits based on individual needs for those in the following groups:

  • Deaf or hard of hearing
  • Mobile disability
  • Blind or have low vision
  • Speech disability
  • Alzheimer’s and related dementia
  • Intellectual or developmental disabilities
Kat makes sure to think about her wheelchair when making emergency plans.

Practicing Your Plan

Creating an emergency plan will help your family be more prepared for disasters, but practicing your plan is just as essential. The more you review a plan with your family, the more likely everyone will remember it and be able to take appropriate action during an emergency.

There are few simple steps you can take to create and practice your plans:

  1. Local Hazards. When planning, talk with your family about the emergencies you are most likely to encounter based on where you live. Discuss geographic elements (in Middle Tennessee we often experience severe storms and flooding) and situations you may encounter at any time (having car trouble or a house fire).
  2. Teamwork. Assign responsibilities to each member of the family, including kids. Everyone has something to contribute, and during an emergency you will need to work together as a team. Having dedicated tasks will also help with preventing stress during a disaster.
  3. Practice. Practice as much of your plan(s) as possible, even if it is just talking through it. Do this on a regular basis, so everyone remembers what to do. Have everyone practice what they would do in the actual situation.
  4. Safe Places. Make sure everyone in the family knows where to go for different emergencies.  Choose two places to meet up. For sudden emergencies such as a fire, meet somewhere right outside your home. If you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate, plan for a place outside of your neighborhood. Make sure everyone knows the addresses (and phone numbers) for all meeting locations. 
  5. Safe People. Make sure kids are comfortable with anyone who they may need to contact if separated during emergencies. This could include family friends who are emergency contacts, but also first responders. Also ensure that these people know that they are listed as an emergency contact for your family.
  6. Supplies. The whole family should help build emergency kits, and there should be one for every family member. Make sure everyone knows the location of the kits and other emergency items in the house, such as the fire extinguisher.
  7. The Basics. At the very least, establish your:
    • Evacuation routes
    • Household communication plan
    • Emergency kit
Activity Sheets.


There are activity sheets about making a plan in the Williamson Kids Coloring and Activity book!

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