Emergency preparation

Emergency plan

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.

Discuss your 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 emergencies

Discuss what you'll do in emergencies that:

  • could happen to anyone such as a house fire or extreme heat
  • you have identified as specific to your area.

Different emergency situations

Decide what you'll do in different situations.

You and your household may not be together. 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 may not be able to return home or may need to leave home in a hurry. Consider:

  • 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.

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.

Leave early or stay in an emergency

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 are defendable particularly in a bushfire
  • you and your family would be able to cope with the stress of staying during an emergency.

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.

Make your plan

When making your plan, here are some of the things you'll need to include.

Contact details

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
  • pet 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 heat, extreme storm, 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.

Emergency kit

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.


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

Include the needs of others in your emergency plan including household members or neighbours that are vulnerable and may not be able to cope emotionally or physically.


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.

Valuable possessions

Write down what you'll do to protect your valuable possessions that can't be replaced and would cause distress if they were gone.

Protecting the irreplaceable on the Red Cross website provides information on identifying your important items and how to protect them.

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.

Manage your plan

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
  • earthquakes, practice DROP, COVER, HOLD
  • 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.

Back-up plan

Have a back-up plan in case things go wrong.

Related information

Other websites

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Provided by: SAFECOM
Page last updated 8 November 2018

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