Category Archives: Disaster Plan

Family Disaster Plan – Time to revisit it

In the wake of the Bryan Stow assault, I am reminded to update and review my family disaster plan.

We have an elaborate plan, but it all started with creating living wills in case something were to happen to one of us, just like it happened to Bryan.

This tab used to be up in the page list and perhaps it is time to bring it back:


Disaster Plan


Talk to your family today about what happens when the unthinkable happens.

In addition, thank you to everyone who came by Santa Clara county AMR yesterday for Bryan's fundraiser, word is we gathered over $100,000 for Bryan and his family.  Thank you.


Time to update your Disaster Plan

As you know, we invest in preparation.  Training, equipment checks, drills, studying, all leading to when the bells ring and we are expected to spring forth with knowledge and actions that seem natural to the casual observer.

However, most of us leave all that preparation at work and come home to a completely unprepared family in case of disaster.  This is the reason I developed my own Family Disaster and Evacuation Plan.

Included in the plan are a number of instructions for my family, and me, on where to shut off utilities, how to shelter in place, who to call for help and what to take and where to go if ordered to evacuate.

As part of the plan, my family keeps on hand a 3 day supply of food and water.  You may remember a brief overview of the contents from the 60 Second lifesaving tip before Episode 6 of Seat at the Table.

Well, it’s that time of year to go through the kit and donate all the foods that will be expiring in the coming year and replacing them with new foods, updating your family’s tastes and needs.

If you would like to know more about how you can make your own custom disaster kit, click HERE to go to our Disaster Plan Page and learn more.

Disaster Plan – The last letters you will ever write

LODD LetterIt has indeed been almost 6 months since I last gave you instructions on our Family Disaster Plan.  if this is the first you are reading of it, click on the Disaster Plan tab at the top of the page and get caught up.

Today’s step is an important one, but in no way, shape or form should it be your first.

Tonight you are going to write a Line of Duty Death instructions sheet to your spouse and loved ones to read and follow only in the event of your death, at work.

This is different than your living will, which you all have now, right?

This is also different than any funeral arrangements you may have made or hope to make.

In the back of the Family Disaster Plan are two important sets of instructions.  The first is the Line of Duty Injury instructions sheet.

This gives my wife a list of phone numbers at Headquarters as well as who to ask for at the firehouse, “the Captain” and “Daywatch” to get someone who can tell her more about what may have happened to me if she is indeed notified that I am injured on the job.

The last time I got hurt no one called her because I was treated and released so quickly.  But if it happens again and she gets a phone call in the middle of the night, she knows to take a deep breath and relax.  I know because that is how the instructions start.

Here is just a snippet to get you thinking about what to write in yours-

“Well, you got the phone call you’ve been dreading.  I understand you are upset.  If I got hurt I was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  We’ll worry about all that later, I need you to start thinking three hours ahead.  Each decision you make between now and this time tomorrow will set the pace for the coming week.  Take a deep breath and calm down.

I’ll wait.


Goto the closet and get one of my work T-Shirts or sweatshirts and wear it when you come to see me.  Be honest if folks ask if you need anything.  Take their help.  They need to help as much as you need it.”

It will get emotional when you prepare them for what they might see when a firefighter is injured in the line of duty.  Be honest.  If you dance around topics now it will only create confusion at the most improper time.  End the letter by reminding them that even though you are hurt, it could be worse.

Now, while an emotional wreck, excuse yourself and be alone for a bit and HAND WRITE the next letter – Line of Duty Death Instructions.

This letter is the one they will keep and read over and over and over after you are gone.  Tell them about why you did what you did or chose this job, profession, occupation, place to volunteer.  Sign it, seal it in an envelope and put it in the back of the Disaster Plan.

On the same day, make plans to open the letter the day after your retirement.  Perhaps someplace tropical.

Do it now or regret it later, your choice.


Disaster Plan – Supplies

I’ve gotten a couple of supportive emails about the Family Disaster Plan we’ve been slowly building, so I’ll try to add a section or two every couple of weeks.

This new section is about supplies. Not necessarily MREs and climbing gear, but re-purposing some basic household items to be used in case of a disaster.

We’ll need some bins. Buy your supplies first, stack the items together, then buy bins that will fit your stuff. Don’t try to cram stuff into bins after the fact.

First, let’s talk water. You will need one gallon of water per person, per day. That means at least 12 gallons for my family. When you get the water home look at howe much space it take up not only in the house, but in the parking lot at the store. Keep this space usage in mind since if you need to evacuate you’ll need to bring it along. (Water does not go in the bins)

Next, let’s talk food. I recommend one can of food per person, per meal. This means a family of four could share 2 cans of chili a vegetable and a fruit as an evening meal. Include canned foods, nothing that needs to be refrigerated, and things your family will actually eat. The side of the road in the middle of the night is a bad place to try to introduce spaghetti Os to a finicky 3 year old. Check the expiration date on the cans and make sure they’ll make it to next year around Christmastime. When they near expiration, replace them and donate them to one of the many canned food drives. Instant karma.

In addition to the cans, we’ll need some variety. Add in a box of unsalted crackers, a package of juice popsicles unfrozen (Like OtterPop Brand) and a handful of candies. This will keep the sugar level up and add some yummy flavor for the kiddos. At the store, find some 12oz V8 cans and add 3 per person. This is your breakfast and is also a great source of vitamins.

Avoid pasta, ramen, anything that requires water to cook. You need that water for drinking.

Now, onto the cooking of the food and the sheltering while away. We’ll cover how and when to evacuate later, let’s get our supplies together first.
Do you go camping? Do you have a tent, camp stove, flashlights, candles and a decent little stockpile of utensils and the like? Then great, you have a disaster kit almost ready to go. Move all you camping things together and into a place that can be easily accessed in a hurry. This will be your home if you need to evacuate. Especially if you are leaving with your pets since many shelters will not accept persons with animals, camping allows you to chose who you bunk with. Re-read the instructions and cautions on your cooking stove to ensure you always use it in an open area.

Just a few more things for our bins. Each bin now gets a can opener, 2 large trash bags, a small box of ziplock bags, a roll of duct tape, a package of baby wipes and an emergency radio/flashlight. You can find a variety of models to choose from, but I recommend one that can run on batteries, solar and dynamo power. It should include a flashlight and radio and some even offer adapters to charge a cell phone. Each bin gets one along with an old cell phone with charger cable. As long as you can transfer your card into the old phone, you’re good to go.

If you have really little ones, add formula and a bottle set up to each bin and remember to update the food choices according to age.

There, the basic bins are ready to go. Whether it fits in 2 or 3 or 4 bins, be sure that the supply can be split if needed, one group taking enough for them while leaving enough for others. Store the bins so they are easily accessible, maybe with the camping gear and you’ll have everything you need in the same place.

Write down what items are in each bin with their expiration dates and place it in the binder in the back. Update it every year before the holidays along with the photos on the front page.
Not sure what I’m talking about? See where this all started at our first adventure into Disaster Planning HERE, ans follow up HERE to learn even more.

Next time we’ll talk about when and why to evacuate. Until then, be prepared.

They Make the Call…What Happened

Well, what did happen when you told the family about this? As indestructible as we feel from time to time, planning for your death is the right thing to do.

Having the papers drawn up is not the end of your task, however, more must be done to make the tragedy easier to handle. That is where your Family Disaster Plan comes into play.

We all have 72 hours of supplies, right? Food, water, medications, flashlights and radios. Not just in hurricane, tornado and earthquake country, but all of us should be ready to ride out 3 days on our own. We’ve all seen how help can take a few days to arrive in a disaster.

But just putting the food in a corner of the garage isn’t enough either. The whole concept of surviving and recovering from a disaster should be at the forefront of your mind BEFORE you need it. Put the time in now and in an emergency you can simply follow your prepared plan. And, since the plan is written down, the family can follow the plan should it occur while you’re stuck helping others.

So, for the first time ever I am assigning homework to all my readers. I know you understand computers, so click open a new word processing document and list the following things:
Members of your family with names, dates of birth, eye and hair color, you can add a photo later.
Next page lists contact numbers. Home, cells, work, doctor, pediatrician, local animal shelter, non emergency dispatch, family friend in walking distance.
You’re doing great, now on another page, give simple instructions on where and how to shut off the electricity and gas in your home.

Now, print it out and place it in a large 3-ring binder and put it on the shelf. When you get all your living will documents together, place the originals here.

There. You’re well on your way to completing a Family Disaster Plan.

If you’re rolling your eyes or think I’m taking this thing way too far, there might be a Cop Rock rerun on that would be more worth your time.

More details to follow, including the Evacuation Ordered section and the previously mentioned LODD envelope. You can find that post under the label Disaster Plan under the Topics Tab.

They Make the Call…You’re dead

I’m wondering how many of you were motivated by my post a little bit ago about living wills and talking with your family about what should happen if/when you die.

So, congratulations, you’re dead.

If your loved one is near you right now, tell them the following scenario:

On the way to work this morning another driver ran a red light broadsiding you and you died. Your body has been taken to the medical examiner.

Does your loved one know what to do next? All the account numbers, access codes, insurance, who to call at your work, what kind of service you want, if at all. What to do about income, the bills etc etc.

Now let’s take that a step further and imagine the following scenario:

You and your loved one are out for a movie when the same thing happens, only both of you are dead. Who cares for your children? Who can legally come and care for them? How will your family access your accounts, your matters and deal with your estate?

If you or your loved one said “I don’t know” to any part of the above scenarios stop reading this and look into a living will. At least talk about what you want to have happen to you after you die. As soon as you have the aftermath figured out, now get into the details of your wishes should you be unable to make medical decisions for yourself. Who makes them? Do you trust your loved one more than your mother, brother or local legislature? Put it in writing and get it notarized because simply saying “He told me he wanted to die/live” is not legally binding. Terry Schiavo ring a bell?

Get your living will and all other important documents and make 3 copies. Put the originals in a binder in a common area of your home labeled Family Disaster Plan (Details on that soon). Send another copy to whoever you chose to care for your children should you die. Then send the third set to a trusted friend or family member away from you who is not likely to be involved in the same disaster should one occur. Seal it in an envelope labeled (FOR EMERGENCY ONLY) and ask them to file it away.

Now, tell each other person about the 3 copies and where you keep the binder. Should something happen to you someone need only open the binder and follow the instructions, having all the necessary legal documents in hand should any question arise.

This, my friends, is how you take care of your family when you are dead. We’ll cover more about the Family Disaster Plan later, especially the sealed folder in the back labeled LODD.

Get things straightened out before the unthinkable happens.