FORT LEE, Va. (Feb. 9, 2012) -- In the past year, our community has experienced a hurricane, tornadoes, wildfires and an earthquake, causing families to shelter-in-place or to evacuate. Families should be prepared for all hazards that affect their area. Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan:

• Learn your community warning signals.

• Meet with your family to create a plan. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency such as a house fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you cannot return home. This is especially important if a disaster happens during the day when families are separated by adults at work and children at school. Choose an out-of-area friend as your family check-in contact for everyone to call if the family becomes separated.

• Implement your plan. Post emergency telephone numbers by the phones. Inspect safety features in your house such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. Inspect your home for potential hazards and correct them. Have your family learn basic safety and first aid measures. Make sure everyone knows how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local emergency medical services phone number. Have disaster supplies on hand.

Home Emergency Supplies

You should have the following supplies on-hand in the event you must shelter-in-place when events prevent you from leaving your home:

• Flashlights and extra batteries

• Battery-operated radio and extra batteries

• Emergency non-perishable foods that do not require refrigeration

• Non-electric can opener

• Bottled water

• One week's supply of essential medicines

• Extra blankets and sleeping bags

• First aid kit

• Fire extinguisher

• Appropriate emergency heating equipment. If you plan to use your fireplace or stove, have your chimney flue cleaned and checked for buildup of creosote.

• Replacement batteries for smoke, heat and carbon monoxide detectors.