ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Without warning, disaster can strike — so it’s important you, your family, or household, and everyone in between is ready with a plan.

A simple emergency plan, such as where to meet if you become separated, a list of emergency contact information, and knowing the evacuation route if there is one, can be the difference that saves lives. When you’re building a plan, it’s important to know what types of emergencies and natural disasters are common in your area. For western New York that generally includes, severe weather such as wind storms, power outages, heavy snowfall, flooding, and tornadoes, among others.

According to ready.gov, a website run by the Department of Homeland Security, these are the most important steps to take to build a sturdy emergency plan:

  • Have a way to receive emergency alerts and updates, including weather watches and warnings
  • Know where you can shelter in your house, apartment, or in the local area
  • Establish a communication plan between members of your household/family
  • A meeting place other than home in case you can’t gain access
  • Have an emergency kit/go bag ready with any special needs items (medications, important documents, etc…)
  • PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!

The last two points are extremely important when it comes to being prepared for an emergency. By practicing at least every year with members of your household, you can be sure everyone is familiar with the plan and their roles if the time comes.

The other point is a good emergency kit or “go bag”. This is going to have all the essentials in it such as a gallon of water per person, per day, non-perishable foods, flashlights, a crank or battery-operated radio to receive updates, and any special needs items someone in your household needs. This could include medications, oxygen, special dietary needs, etc.

As part of the yearly practice of your emergency plan, updates should be made to your emergency kit as well. Fresh supplies need to be added to the kit, and items like expired canned goods or medications need to be swapped out. Remember, if you’re prepared, there is no reason to panic.

For more details on how to build an emergency kit, and create a household emergency plan, you can visit ready.gov/plan which has pre-made templates, and checklists available to download for free.