Make a Plan

To help reduce the impacts of disasters, start by creating a plan with your household to discuss what you will do if a disaster occurs. Talking through and planning for different scenarios is important. For example, members of your household may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance how you will contact one another, how you will get back together, and what you will do in different situations.

FEMA provides numerous types of plans that you can download, fill out, and print for your family. Emergency plan templates include:

As a Delaware resident, you should also incorporate the following information into your plans:

Communications planning

  • Alert and warning systems
    • Delaware Emergency Notification System (DENS) information and registration is at this link.
    • Smart 9-1-1 information and registration is at this link.
    • County and city-specific information is available here.
    • For national alert and warning system information, see this link from FEMA.
  • Tip: Text messages often get through when a phone call cannot, so plan to text instead of call in an emergency.

Evacuation planning

  • Determine whether to shelter-in-place or evacuate. If Emergency Management or Public Safety tell you to evacuate, do so immediately. Guidance is at this link.
  • Identify local radio stations, television stations, and cell phone emergency alerts and warnings.
    • County and city-specific information is available here.
  • Consider limited evacuations routes off the peninsula, especially if a hurricane is imminent.
  • Remember:
    • COVID-19 restrictions both at home and at your potential evacuation destination. What are the mask and social distancing requirements, and do you have you COVID-19 safety kit items in your Emergency Kit?
    • Plan for your pets, too. Always take them with you – NEVER leave them behind, even if you think you will only be gone for a few hours.
    • Take Proof of Residence (ex: bill with your name and address) with you for when you are returning to your home, as public safety officers will restrict reentry to residents only.

Keep in mind

  • Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together in the event of an emergency.
  • Inquire about emergency plans at places where your family spends time: work, daycare, and school.
  • Practice makes prepared!
    • Practice and maintain your plan. Practicing your plan will help you instinctively make the appropriate response during an actual emergency. Review your plan periodically and make changes as needed.
    • Role-play with children to help them remain calm in emergencies and to practice basic emergency responses.
    • Role-play with children as to what they should do if a parent is suddenly sick or injured and what to say when calling Emergency 9-1-1.

Seniors and individuals with access & functional needs

The University of Delaware’s Center for Disabilities Studies has produced an excellent website for those with disabilities, available at:

  • Set up a personal support network: Designate someone to check on you in an emergency and to help with evacuation or sheltering-in-place.
  • Prepare and carry an emergency health information card with you: This will help you to communicate if you are found unconscious or incoherent. Include information about your medications, adaptive equipment, blood type, allergies and sensitivities, insurance numbers, immunization dates, communication difficulties and preferred treatment, as well as contact information for your health providers, personal support network, and emergency contacts.
  • Personal care assistance: If you receive assistance from a home health care agency or in-home support provider, find out how the provider will respond in an emergency. Designate backup or alternative providers that you can contact in an emergency.
  • For persons using a mobility device: Plan for how you will evacuate in an emergency and discuss it with your care providers. If you use a motorized wheelchair, have a manual wheelchair as a backup.
  • For persons who are blind or visually impaired: Keep an extra cane by your bed. Attach a whistle in case you need to attract attention. Exercise caution when moving; paths may have become obstructed.
  • For persons who are deaf or hearing impaired: Keep extra batteries for your hearing aids with emergency supplies. Consider storing your hearing aids in a container attached to your nightstand or bedpost, so you can locate them quickly after a disaster.
  • For persons with communication challenges: Store paper, writing materials, copies of a word or letter board, and pre-printed key phrases in your emergency kit, wallet, purse, etc.

DPH Preparedness Buddy

A great resource for individuals with functional needs is the DPH Preparedness Buddy. The Preparedness Buddy brochure can be found online at this link.

This printable brochure is a handy tool that will provide you and your preparedness buddy with essential information should you find yourself in a situation where you would need to evacuate. DPH asks caregivers, relatives, and advocates of persons with access and functional needs to designate two dependable caregivers, relatives, or friends to be “Preparedness Buddies” — a primary buddy and an alternate buddy. Preparedness buddies assist such individuals with planning for emergencies and evacuating if necessary. Persons with Access and Functional Needs have visual, hearing, mobility, cognitive, emotional, and mental limitations, and include older people, children, those with limited or no English language proficiency, persons from diverse cultures, individuals who use life-support systems, people who use service animals, and people who are medically or chemically dependent.