As part of your emergency preparation you'll need an emergency plan. Creating a plan involves making decisions about what to do if an emergency or disaster occurs. Your household should discuss, write and maintain an emergency plan.
Include your entire household when discussing your plan. If you live on your own discuss your plan with your personal network of family, friends and support services.
This way everyone is involved and will know what to do if an emergency occurs.
Before, during and after an emergency
Discuss what you'll do:
- to be ready in case of an emergency
- to look after your animals
- to keep safe during and after an emergency
- to help recover after an emergency.
Types of emergency
Discuss what you'll do in emergencies that:
- could happen to anyone such as a house fire or a heatwave
- you have identified as specific to your area - eg bushfire or flood.
Different emergency situations
Decide what you'll do in different situations.
You and your household may not be together, so consider:
- how you'll stay in contact - choose two family members or friends who do not live with you, one local and one outside your neighbourhood to be your household emergency contacts
- where you'll meet - choose two meeting places, one nearby and the other outside your local area
- who will pick up children from childcare or school.
You'll need to decide in advance whether you are going to leave early or stay for some types of emergencies.
It's important that you consider your individual circumstances and if:
- your home and property can be kept safe - particularly in a bushfire
- you and your family would be able to cope with the stress of staying during an emergency.
- where you'll stay - it should be somewhere that is outside your neighbourhood
- how you'll get there - have more than one option in case roads are blocked or closed.
Remember that you may not have a choice to:
- leave early when there is no warning - eg earthquake or chemical emergency
- stay - there may be unforeseen circumstances when you have to leave in a hurry or emergency services direct you to leave.
Everyone in your home needs to know what to do if you are confined to your home as danger is very close, or if you need to escape or leave in a hurry.
- Identify exits and alternative ways out of the house and how to open windows and shutters - especially in case of a house fire.
- Decide where to meet outside the house, such as your driveway.
- Identify where to shelter inside the house depending on the type of emergency - eg if there's an earthquake, and you're indoors, stay there and shelter under a strong table, or if there’s a flood move to higher ground.
- Know that if you're in a bushfire the safest place is either away from the fire or you'll need to take shelter away from the radiant heat (which is deadly) in a solid structure such as your home.
- Know where to turn off electricity, gas and water supplies.
- Know the location of your written emergency plan.
- Know the location of your emergency kit and the whereabouts of items to be added to the kit at the last minute - eg medicines.
Work out what you'll do if there is a utility failure:
- without electricity and gas you won't have lighting, hot water or be able to cook
- without electricity and water, businesses may need to close
- lengthy electricity outages may also affect communications.
When making your plan, here are some of the things you'll need to include or think about.
If you have pets you'll also need to prepare for their welfare. The RSPCA South Australia website has a pet emergency plan you can use.
For farm animals refer to the PIRSA information on animal safety in emergencies.
Names and phone numbers of:
- household members
- friends and neighbours who may need help or can help you out
- contacts at work, childcare or school
- animal services.
Provide details of where you'll meet or leave a message, in case you can't get home or can't contact each other.
Phone numbers for:
- emergency services - Triple Zero (000) for ambulance, fire, police
- types of emergency - eg animal and plant disease, bushfire, chemical emergency, earthquake, extreme storm, heatwave, human disease, utility outages
- medical services
- your insurance company
- your local council.
Make up wallet-size contact cards with names and phone numbers.
Display the card on the fridge or household notice board.
Carry a card with you in your handbag or wallet.
Add numbers in your mobile phone.
Electricity, gas and water
Keep a record of where the main switches for electricity, gas and water are, so they can be switched off if necessary.
Record this information about your emergency kit:
- the name of the person responsible for the kit
- the date when items are to be checked and replaced
- a list of what is in the kit
- the location of the kit.
Emergency warnings and alerts
Record information about how the emergency warning system works and what you'll need to do when a warning is issued.
Write down the local ABC radio station channel to listen to warnings.
Home and property maintenance
Include a checklist of what you'll need to do to keep your home and property well maintained.
Include how to shelter in and escape from the house depending on the type of emergency.
Infants and young children
Infants and young children are vulnerable in emergencies as they have specific food and fluid needs, an immature immune system and are susceptible to dehydration. Plan for conditions where there may be high temperatures, poor sanitation, food and water shortages, power shortages and restricted access to health care facilities.
Use the Money Smart website to work out how to manage your insurance.
Record when it's time to review insurance policies.
Check that you have adequate cover for the emergencies that are likely to occur in your area.
Make sure your insurance policies include cleaning up and disposal of items.
Looking after each other
When putting your emergency plan together, consider the needs of people at risk because of illness or isolation. Include not only your household but people in the neighbourhood who you could assist in an emergency. Remember that neighbours may also be able to help you.
People at risk
The people who can be vulnerable in an emergency include those that:
- have a mental health issue
- have a chronic illness
- are new to the area
- don't speak English
- have age-related frailty or illness
- are reliant on medication or medical equipment
- are socially isolated
- don't have access to private transport.
Helping people at risk
Here are a few pointers to get you started in thinking about how you could assist a person who is at risk.
- Help the person to develop their own emergency plan.
- Help a person who is socially and physically isolated by setting-up a personal support team for them. This support team will be able to assist if the person needs to evacuate.
- Make sure that a person with restricted or no mobility can leave the house if access ramps aren't operating or are inaccessible.
- Set up an alternative power source for a person on life support equipment. Register with SA Power Networks' free messaging service, Power@MyPlace™ to get SMS or email power outage alerts.
- Make sure those with communication or hearing problems understand what they need to do if an emergency warning is issued.
Neighbours helping each other
It's helpful to know your neighbours and make plans for how you can help each other before, during and after an emergency.
Neighbours can work together by:
- preparing homes for the bushfire season
- filling sandbags or moving furniture before a flood
- providing a place to shelter during a disaster
- making sure everyone is safe
- cleaning up after a disaster.
Write down what you'll do to protect your valuable possessions that can't be replaced and would cause distress if they were gone.
Specific for floods
Locate an area of high ground where it would be safe to move your vehicle and equipment.
Plan which items to move to higher ground if water threatens your home - eg furniture, clothing and valuables.
Make a list of hazardous substances such as chemicals and poisons that will need to be elevated or waterproofed if a flood is likely.
Specific for earthquakes
Do a walk-through of your home to locate safe places to DROP, COVER, HOLD.
Look for strong tables or desks that can provide shelter from falling debris.
Know the possible warning signs that may occur prior to an earthquake:
- watch for erratic animal behaviour, including frightened or confused pets running around, or a bird call not usually heard at night
- watch for sudden changes in water level in wells or bores.
It's important that you review and practice your plan with all household members and animals.
Practice and review
Practice and review your plan regularly.
- For seasonal occurrences such as bushfires or severe heat, review and practice your plan just before the season starts.
- For earthquakes, practice DROP, COVER, HOLD.
- For house fire, practice STOP, COVER, DROP and ROLL for a person on fire.
Make sure all household members are involved. That way everyone will know what to do if an emergency happens.
Keep your plan safe
Keep your plan in your emergency kit. Save a copy electronically where you can access it if you are away from home.
Have a back-up plan in case things go wrong.