Disaster Planning

Family Survival Training: A Step by Step Guide

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For many people, family is their number one priority. As parents, we go to work in order to provide food and shelter for our children, we try and provide the best education, and give them what we lacked during our own childhood.

However, many people forget to teach their children how to respond to an emergency. Even as parents we may need to reevaluate which areas in our home are the safest and which are the most dangerous during a crisis.

While government agencies have an emergency plan for a whole assortment of situations, it’s prudent that your family has one as well.

Follow this family survival training guide and keep everyone safe during an emergency.

1.   Family Emergency Plan

Step number one is to hold a family meeting to create an emergency plan. This needs to be created as a whole family in case an emergency happens while you guys are separated.

Identify Areas of the House

The plan needs to cover the various areas in the home and what is potentially dangerous.

Go over safe spots that will protect you from falling objects or debris (heavy tables and desks), as well as potentially dangerous areas in objects, such as:

  • Windows
  • Hanging light fixtures
  • Heavy objects on shelves
  • Tall furniture that hasn’t been secured to the wall
  • Major appliances
  • Hanging plants/pictures
  • Chimneys

Create a Home Evacuation Plan

Next, you’ll want to cover the fastest evacuation route and potential contingency routes. Teach your kids how to escape a home during a fire. Practice a home evacuation plan with multiple ways out of every room in the event of a fire. You can even make a game out of it by timing your family to see how fast they can get out.

Go over the basics of how to react to the sound of a smoke alarm. Instruct them that if the alarm does sound, to get low and crawl out, which will greatly enhance their chance of exiting safely.

Never forget to include the tried-and-true, stop, drop, and roll if someone has actually caught on fire.

During a crisis where evacuation isn’t the top priority, everyone in the house should know where and be able to shut off the:

  • Water
  • Gas
  • Electricity

Show everyone when, why, and how to turn them off.

Tailor the Plan to Accommodate for Particular Needs

Just as every disaster comes in different shapes and sizes, so does every family. A plan for one family may not be adequate for another.

Make special preparations for family members who are:

  • Elderly
  • Disabled
  • Required to take specific medication
  • Unable to communicate with emergency workers
  • Children

During this phase of family emergency plan, make sure that when helping family members who need special assistance in order to evacuate, to get:

  • Medications
  • Medical equipment
  • Mobility devices (wheelchairs, canes, walkers)

After Disaster Meeting Plan

Sometimes a disaster can strike while everyone is separate, or the disaster can actually separate you from your family. If this is the case, then it’s vital that family members know where and how to get back together, or at least get in touch.

The family emergency plan should include:

  • A meeting place
  • Trusted neighbors
  • Local emergency shelters
  • The number of out-of-state relatives

If possible, organize a plan with a neighbor or nearby friends to pick up each other’s children in the event of an emergency, and possible house them until the crisis has passed.

    2. Stock Up on Supplies

Now that everyone has been instructed on what to do if there is an emergency, it’s now time to prepare for a potential disaster. When there is a hurricane warning, it’s not fun to wade through the sea of people trying to get their hands on that last can of tuna, it’s better to already have it at your house.

Take stock of your emergency supplies and organize them. You’ll want to have multiple of some items to store in different parts of your house. The majority of people have heard, “Two is one and one is none.” Sometimes things go awry and your flashlight breaks or gets lost, it’s better to have another one handy, just in case. However, try not to keep them together, because if you can’t get to the room that they’re in, then you might as well have none.

After finishing the family emergency plan, you should have an idea of where your family spends the most time, and consider keeping an emergency stash in these locations. Most people spend the majority of their time in either the kitchen or the living room, so it’s best to have a backpack or a plastic container in these locations with your survival equipment.

You may also want to keep an additional kit in your bedroom, in case something happens while you’re sleeping.

Your basic emergency kit should include:

  • Water – one gallon/person for 3 days
  • Food – 3 days’ worth supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle
  • Radio
  • Dust mask
  • Duct tape
  • Sanitation (garbage bags, wet naps)
  • Tool kit
  • Manual can opener
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery
  • Special medication
  • Infant supplies (if applicable)

Maintain your emergency kit at least once a month to see if they are stored properly

Having items that have multiple uses and can act as a backup for another major item should also be kept handy.

When storing your food supply, keeping mind to:

  • Place dried food, sugar, and flour into air-tight sealed jars to prevent rodents and pest from getting to them
  • Store you supply out of direct light and heat in order to extend its usability
  • Store them off the ground to prevent and potential contamination

    3. First Aid Supplies and Training

Disaster usually come with injuries, and for many people, they may be stranded for up to 3 days by themselves. If the disaster is severe enough, emergency services could be down, and treating injuries will fall on to you.

It’s time to put together a first aid kit, and if you don’t know how or it’s been a long time since you’ve administered first aid or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), it’s time to take a course.

Courses can be found for both adults and children, and can be found at various locations such as Red Cross, hospitals, and community centers.

There they can teach you how to treat common disaster injuries, such as:

  • Bleeding
  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Lacerations
  • Shock
  • Respiratory arrest

When building your first aid kit, keep in mind that you won’t know what you’ll end up needing to treat, so make sure your kit includes:


  • Bandages (variety of types; butterfly, triangular, rolls, etc)
  • Adhesive tape
  • 4×4 individually sealed sterile gauze dressings
  • Scissors


  • Aspirin or acetaminophen
  • Cold compress
  • Saline for eye irrigation


  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic salve
  • Latex gloves
  • Liquid soap
  • Wound disinfectant


  • A first aid manual
  • Safety pins
  • Eye cup or small plastic cup to wash out eyes
  • Emergency (foil) blanket
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • High-absorbency pads
  • Tissues
  • Smelling salts
  • Dust masks

Keep this kit with your other emergency supplies.

    4. Earthquake Preparedness

Every city within the United States is at risk of an earthquake. It doesn’t matter the magnitude of the quake, any size ranging from 5 all the way up to the terrifying 8.0, can cause immense damages and injuries.

Given that there are hundreds of earthquakes over 3.0 in the United States every year, it stands to reason that everyone should understand what to do in the event one strikes.

However, if you take the correct course of action then you can save lives and reduce your risk of death and injury.

If you find yourself inside when the plates begin rattling, then you should follow three simple steps in order to reduce your chances at being hurt.

Step 1. Get Down

When you feel a quake coming on, drop to the floor and keep low. You want to avoid windows in case they shatter as well as any tall unsecured furniture which may topple. They make specific earthquake resistant versions of many items now, such as windows, that you should take advantage of if your area is prone to quakes.

Step 2. Take Cover

As soon as you’re able to find cover, get underneath of it. This can be anything from a table, desk, or any other strong furniture which can help protect you from falling debris. If you are in an area without adequate coverage, find the corner of an interior wall and curl up while protecting your head and neck with your arms. Once again, avoid any windows that can break or any heavy objects that can fall.

Step 3. Hold On

If you’ve managed to get cover under a piece of furniture, then hold onto it. You may have to move from your location, and you want to bring it with you like a protective shell. Once you’ve found a safer area, maintain that position until the earthquake has ceased and you are out of immediate danger.

    5. Practice

The more you plan and drill with your family, the easier it will be for them to react correctly to any emergency. If they know they right steps, then the fear will become more manageable for them because they won’t need to make snap decisions. Plus, going through family survival training is an excellent way to teach children to begin trusting in their own skills to get out safe.

Author Biography:

Ben Brown is the owner of The Prepping Guide. Involved in Military for many years and write about Personal Security, Preparedness, Prepping, Survival, Self-Sufficiency and Readiness for Safety, both Physically and Digitally.

By Damian Brindle

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