Ready Coast Guard: Make a Plan

Without a plan, your family could be unprepared to react with assurance when time is of the essence or you may have difficulty finding one another if separated.

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A blank emergency contact card. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Written by the U.S. Coast Guard Office of Work-Life.

Having an emergency plan in place before disaster strikes helps families get through an emergency situation safely and with less worry. In March 2011, with the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant leaking radiation after an earthquake and tsunami, a handful of Coast Guard families stationed at Yokata Air Base had less than 12 hours to prepare to evacuate from Japan.

One spouse who was up all night making arrangements while her husband was on duty advises, “When it comes to kids and pets, have the paperwork handy so you can grab it and go.” She learned this lesson the hard way after successfully rounding up rabies certificates so she could take her dogs and cat, but forgetting the immunization records needed to enroll her child in a non-military school at a new location.

Without a plan, your family could be unprepared to react with assurance when time is of the essence or you may have difficulty finding one another if separated.

An effective emergency plan is written down, gathers all essential information into one place, and includes the following components:

• Contact information for family members, including school and workplace numbers
• An out-of-town, third party contact each member of the family can check in with if you can’t reach each other
• Family meeting location
• Physician , pharmacy, and similar numbers and insurance policy information
• Personal and financial records
• Arrangements for family members with special needs
• Arrangements for pets

As part of the Ready Coast Guard campaign, the Office of Work-Life has created printer-friendly family emergency plan worksheet and blank emergency contact cards online. Work-Life Programs also can assist you in addressing issues that develop before, during and after an emergency. To locate the Work-Life Office nearest to you, simply call 1-800-872-4957 or visit the Coast Guard’s Work-Life website.

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