Household Disaster Plan
Lindsey Koch
Ferris State University


The focus of this paper is to identify the types of natural or chemical disasters and acts of
terrorism that could happen in your community. It explains the ways that you can be prepared in
case these situations occur in your community. It lays out a household disaster plan to follow in
case of a disaster that could sustain you and your family for three days or more.


Household Disaster Plan
Frequently when you turn on the television, the news is filled with stories of natural
disasters occurring around the world and how it is affecting the communities. Many people
believe that natural disasters could not occur in their community but the truth is that disasters are
unpredictable. With all of the possible types of disasters that could occur, it is important to have
a household disaster response plan. The household disaster plan should contain a supply kit to
help not only yourself, but also your family to survive for three days or more. Whether you are in
a disaster prone area or not, it is important to always be prepared for the unexpected disasters
that may occur in your area or community.
Types of Disasters
Natural Disasters
Natural disasters can occur with little or no warning all over the world. Certain types of
natural disasters are more prevalent in different areas of the world. Veenema (2013) states,
“Natural disasters with acute onsets include events such as avalanche, blizzard, or extreme cold;
earthquake; fire; flood; heat wave; hurricane, cyclone, or typhoon; tornado; tsunami or storm
surge; volcanic eruption; and wildfire” (p. 266). For example while a tornado is prevalent to the
Michigan area, Florida is prone to hurricanes. These disasters can be devastating to communities
especially if they come quickly and without warning. Some natural disasters can come on slow.
Veenema (2013) states, “Natural hazards with a slow or gradual onset include deforestation,
desertification, drought, and pest infection” (p. 266). These may occur slowly, but can still be
just as devastating for a community. Not all disasters are prone to certain areas, but all possible
types should be examined.

The types of natural disasters that could occur in my community are blizzard or extreme
cold, fire, flood, heat wave, and tornado. I live in a small community in central Michigan so the
most common disasters that we have are the threat of tornados, fires, or extreme cold during the
winter. These disasters can be devastating to a small rural town, like mine, if they occur in that
Chemical Disasters/Terrorism
Natural disasters are not the only kind of disaster that citizens need to be concerned with.
With the United States at war, the chances of chemical disasters or terrorism are greatly
increased. According to the American Occupational Therapy Association, Delany states the
types of chemical disasters include “biological threats, chemical emergencies/threats, computer
attacks/viruses, dam failure, explosions, hazardous material leaks (e.g., oil spills), mass
transportation accidents, mining accidents, nuclear blasts, nuclear power plant emergencies,
prolonged or widespread power failures, radiological dispersion device activations, and any other
terrorist activities” (2011). Occasionally there can be a warning of possible attacks, but these
situations are unpredictable since they are man-made. Multiple threats can be made and the
possibility of determining which threats will be followed through on is close to impossible.
Certain communities are at higher risk for terrorist attacks such as big cities or places that will
make a bigger impact such as the 9/11 terrorist attack.
The type of chemical disasters that I believe could happen in my area are dam failure and
prolonged or widespread power failures. There have been several occasions where power has
failed for up to a week in my community. This was extremely hard for the community to
continue to function at the level it needed to function at. My town is a busy traffic area for people

passing through the area. There also is a damn in the city that if it failed could cause issues in the
town regarding the river and the lake in the center of town. However terrorism should not be
excluded considering that it can occur anywhere. Thirty miles away there is a chemical plant that
could be an area for a terrorist attack. If the plant was attacked, it could not only harm my
community with the chemicals that would be expelled during the attack, but the possibility of an
explosion that could damage surrounding areas. With the possibility of chemicals expelled, the
drink water could become contaminated. This leads to how to be prepared for this possible
Household Response Plan
Emergency Contacts
In case of an emergency, a list of our emergency contacts is programmed in our phones
and available in the kitchen drawer. The address book in the kitchen holds the addresses of
family members and friends. Each one of the members in my household has a smart phone. Our
neighborhood is extremely close and helpful to each other. In case of emergency, we would not
only be able to go to them for assistance, but we also have multiple family members outside of
community. For example, when our power was over a week during the winter, we were able to
stay at a family member’s house. A meeting place that we have is my Aunt and Uncle’s house
once we evacuate. We don’t have any neighbors or family members that need special
arrangements, and we are able to take our pets with us under emergency situations. We have two
pets that are low maintenance that are able to travel with us in case of an emergency. We also
each have a vehicle in case something happens to one of them.


Emergency Evacuation
Our house has two floors and four bedrooms with several routes to escape. Two rooms
upstairs have multiple windows that can be used as escape routes and also the doorways. The
third room upstairs has two doors and multiple windows to escape. The fourth bedroom
downstairs has two doorways and multiple windows. For our main escape routes, there are four
doors upstairs and a sliding door downstairs along with multiple windows throughout the
household. We are very fortunate to have multiple doors and windows in our household.
Water, Gas, and Electricity
The main gas valve is located in the basement with an emergency shut off valve at the
gas meter. I would turn off the valve in case of extreme emergency. Our electric panel is located
in the garage, and I would switch off the main breaker. The water shut off is in the storage room
in the basement. I would attempt to shut each of these off in case of extreme emergency where
they would need to be shut off. An article by Baker (2011) states that “Actual preparedness
might actually be lower due to at least two factors. First, respondents might be overstating their
actual levels of preparedness” (p. 51). However, I feel that my family may be shocked during an
actual emergency, but we also are prepared.
Disaster Supply Kit
Medications and First Aid Supplies
I am a nurse so I have a lot of medications and first aid supplies at my house. I have a
stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, towels, gauzes, Band-Aids, and several other supplies. We also
have a large variety of medications such as Advil, Tylenol, Aspirin, Benadryl, and Triple

Antibiotic Cream. Even though we should plan for at least three days of survival supplies, Bethel
(2011) states, “A 3-day supply of prescription medication may not be suffıcient as the American
Red Cross27 currently recommends a 7-day supply of medication as part of a household’s
preparedness supplies” (p. 142). We also have at least a week supply of our own personal
medications. I believe that we are sufficient in this area to survive for three days or more in case
we are stranded at our house.
Food and Water
I feel that this is an area that we are lacking on. We have lots of food and drinks at our
household. However, I feel that we should have gallons of water and non-perishable foods in our
basement just in case. Many of the foods that we have need to be prepared and cooked. We
usually carry a case of water, but I do not believe that this is enough for three days or more. I
would like to stock up our storage room with food and water in the case of an emergency
Clothes, Bedding, Tools, and Specialty Items
My household has plenty of clothing and bedding to last us at least a week. Not only do
we have our own clothing for each season, but we also have multiple sets of bedding. When it
comes to tools, we have a garage full of tools for multiple situations. According to Frumkin
(2011), part of being prepared is “maintaining a 3-day supply of food, water, and medications;
and having a flashlight and radio with working batteries” (p. 272). We have plenty of flashlights
and batteries for them. It is very important to keep batteries in your household. We still have a
radio, but it needs to be checked to see how it works. Another supply that we have in our
household is a lantern. This is extremely useful when we lose power. We have used the lantern

on multiple occasions along with our flashlights. We also have battery powered candles that
come in handy during power outages. Regular candles are available also, but they can increase
the risk of fires.
A disaster supply kit can make a huge difference when families are faced with a disaster.
I feel that this is an area which my family is slightly lacking in. I believe that we are only
partially prepared to survive during a disaster. I believe that we need to work on the food and
water aspect of our supply kit because this is extremely important. However, I feel that we are
prepared otherwise. One reason I believe that we are prepared is because of the children in the
household. According to Barata, they found that “households with children seemed to be best
prepared for an emergency. In comparing households with and without children, there were
statistically significant differences” (2004). I believe that my parents were more prepared for
disasters because they had children and have a child in the house still. Not only did they need to
prepare for themselves, but also for their children.
Natural and chemical disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. It is important to be
prepared and have a plan. Household members need to know how to shut off water, gas, and
electric and know the evacuation plan. Not only should there be an evacuation plan that includes
emergency contacts and emergency meeting places, but there also should be a disaster supply kit
for the household. A disaster supply kit should provide all family members with enough supplies,
food, water, and medications to make it through at least three days. This is an extremely
important part of disaster planning that needs to be focused on because of the increased
probability of natural or chemical disasters. I feel that through careful planning and continuing
updates that households can be prepared for disasters that can occur in their community.

Baker, E. J. (2011). Household preparedness for the Aftermath of Hurricanes in Florida. Applied
Geography, 31, 46-52. Retrieved February 5, 2014
Barata, L. (2004, October). Are there differences between households with children and without
children regarding the degree of household preparedness for a disaster such as fire, flood,
earthquake, blackout or devastating act s. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 44(4), 24-25.
Bethel, J. W., Foreman, A. N., & Burke, S. C. (2011, February). Disaster Preparedness Among
Medically Vulnerable Populations. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 40(2), 139-
143. Retrieved February 5, 2014
DeLany, J. V., Reitz, M. S., Scaffa, M. E., & Smith, T. M. (2011, November). The role of
occupational therapy in disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. American Journal
of Occupational Therapy, 65(6). doi:
Frumkin, H. (2011, February). Bumps on the Road to Preparedness. American Journal of
Preventive Medicine, 40(2), 272-273. Retrieved February 5, 2014
Veenema, T. G. (2013). Disaster Nursing and Emergency Preparedness for Chemical,
Biological and Radiological Terrorism and Other Hazards (3rd ed.). New York: Springer
Publishing Co.