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From the Desk of Assemblywoman Michelle Schimel

Preparing for the Unexpected: Part II: Creating an Emergency Plan

This is the second installment of a three-part series helping you to prepare for the unexpected. In last week’s column, I discussed the importance of being informed and encouraged you to sign up for the NY-Alert program at This week, I will focus on how to create an emergency plan.

When an emergency occurs you need to be ready for the unexpected, you want to have a plan.

Before a disaster strikes, it is important for you and your family to sit down and discuss what you would do in an emergency situation. Please keep in mind that a disaster could confine you to your home or force you to evacuate your neighborhood for a long period of time. Make a family plan and write it down. Most importantly, remember to practice your plan! Include the following items in your emergency plan:

Escape Routes: Draw a floor plan of your home and label escape routes from each room in case you need to make a quick exit.

Make sure children understand the floor plan and post a copy at eye level in each child’s room.

Select a meeting place near your home (neighborhood meeting place) and one outside of your residential area in case you cannot return home.

Family Communications Plan: Your family may not be together when disaster strikes so plan how you will contact one another.

Select an out-of-town contact for household members to notify that they are safe. Make sure everyone knows this person’s phone number and address.

Complete a contact card for each family member. On this card list the out-of-town contact’s name and phone number and your family’s neighborhood meeting place.

Each family member should keep their contact card handy (wallet, purse or backpack).

Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (911, police, fire and ambulance).

Evacuation Plan: Plan in advance how you will assemble your family during an evacuation and where you would go.

Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency.

Make a list of emergency evacuation routes.

Create a list of local area emergency shelters; include contact information and directions.

Pets: Plan how you will gather your pets and anticipate where you will go.

Make arrangements for lodging in advance at a local kennel or boarding facility.

Develop a buddy system with neighbors or friends to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so.

Gather contact information for emergency animal treatment centers. Keep one copy of this contact list with you and another copy in your emergency go-bag.

In next week’s column I will discuss the importance of preparing an emergency go-bag.

For more information about creating an emergency plan please visit the following websites:,, and