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Make a Family Plan

An emergency or disaster may occur when family members are home or at work or school. Having a family emergency plan will give you the reassurance that you will be able to take care of yourselves whether you have to shelter in place or evacuate. Download FEMA's Family Communication Plan to help organize your information. 

Shelter in Place

Following a large scale disaster, be it an earthquake, fire or flood, you may have the option of remaining in your home or at least on your property. You will need to decide if your home is safe to re-enter. If your home is not safe, you may need to camp out in your back yard. Your camping gear can become part of your emergency supplies, such as a tent, sleeping bags, and cook stove. Prepare to take care of yourself and your family for 5-7 days. Don’t forget that if power is out, gas pumps won’t work, ATM’s won’t work and grocery stores will be closed. 




There may be situations such as the recent North Bay wildfires, where you must your home. Have a family meeting to determine how you would leave your home in the event of a wildfire or a house fire. Find two ways to get out of every room. You can make this an activity with your children. It is important to decide on a meeting place for all family members in case of a quick evacuation.


For guidelines on how to prepare for a wildfire, Watch this Cal Fire video on evacuating.


Plan ahead and build an Evacuation Backpack, including items such as copies of financial records on a USB drive, extra eyeglasses, flashlight and small battery-operated radio. This backpack can be left in a closet near your front door or under your bed. You can add last minute items from your Grab and Go Checklist just before you leave, but remember anything you can do ahead of time will save you time in an emergency! Last minute items might include medications, cell phone and charger, safe deposit keys, family jewelry and passports. Each family member should make their own Grab and Go Checklist.


You may not be home when a disaster strikes. Check with your school or daycare to find out what the plan is in case of an evacuation. Make sure your children carry an emergency identification card. One important element on the card is identifying an out-of-town contact. Often in a disaster it is impossible to get local phone service, but calls out of the area can get through. Identifying this contact allows your family, who might be separated, to pass the word that other members are safe.


Keep a Work Kit in case you have to leave work quickly, or have to walk home. Include comfortable shoes, a change of clothes, flashlight, snacks, first aid kit, and of course, water. If a disaster occurs while you are in your car, a Car Kit will come in handy. Download the Mini-Survival Checklists for Work and Car.



First, take a few minutes today and register your cell phones with the Telephone Emergency Notification System (TENS) of Sonoma County. This system will send you an alert in the case of flooding, wildfire, evacuation or other public safety incidents. keeps you up-to-date with relevant information from your local public safety departments and schools. Alerts will include severe weather, criminal activities, severe traffic, missing persons and more. During the North Bay fires, Nixle was a great source of evacuation and road closure information. To sign up for phone alerts on Nixle, send a text message to 888777 and enter your zip code as the message. You will get Nixle alerts on your phone now!

The phone systems, as well as electricity, may be down after a disaster. So how do we share information, contact our families, and get help? There are a few options that might work, depending on the situation. Planning ahead, arranging meeting places for your family, identifying an out-of-town contact and participating in a neighborhood radio network will help provide options in case of a disaster.


Out of Area

If you are not able to get a call through in our area, try an out-of-area call, as that is sometimes more successful.



If you, or a neighbor, have an original landline in your home, it may work when other digital systems are down.



Even if you do not have cell service, you may be able to text (SMS) since it operates on a different frequency.


HAM Radio

CERT Hams play a role of communication in several ways during a disaster.

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