Keeping Your Plan Current

Disaster Ready People 12 Month Guide

Self-reliance is the only road to true freedom, and being one’s own person is its ultimate reward.
– Patricia Sampson

First of all, congratulate yourself on having your very own Personal Preaction™ Plan!

As things in your personal life change, so too will your plan. However, it’s not just the family dynamics that change…neighborhoods and whole regions change as well. A new freeway opens, a military base closes, an evacuation route changes, a community center is built or a chemical manufacturing plant opens nearby. These events, and others like them, require amendments to your Plan and Notebook. The most efficient way to keep them current is to review and update them on a monthly basis. We recommend you set a day of the month so it can become a part of your routine. It’s the kind of habit that will pay off in big dividends.


A monthly family conversation over dinner is the best way to make sure everyone remains on the same page regarding your readiness. Give yourselves about an hour to talk about any changes that may have occurred and use your Notebook as a discussion guide. Having it at your fingertips will move the conversation along more quickly and will reduce the possibility of overlooking anything of importance.

Flip through each section of the Notebook and think about any changes that may require updates. Have there been recent changes to a family member’s health, a change in doctors, school attendance due to grade promotion or graduation, employment or insurance coverage? Record changes by adjusting the information on the forms in all Notebooks. Don’t forget about the information contained on any disc, thumb drive or external hard drive in your Evacuation Kit.

Practice Your Plan

Reviewing your plan involves periodically practicing a few elements of the plan itself. Some things, like your contact list, need to be reviewed every month. Other elements will require action only every three or six months. If you practice your Plan you’ll know what to do without having to give much thought to it when an emergency situation does occur. Practicing also reveals any flaws in your plan. By using the lists below, schedule when you will perform each of the reviews and write that date on your calendar. Review and practice sessions can be fun and reassuring, so nurture them as they become a productive family ritual. The key is staying prepared.

  • Every Month
  • Discuss any family, neighborhood and/or regional changes you know have taken place and update as needed
  • Review our contact lists and Phone Tree
  • Check every Evacuation Kit and make needed replacements and/or adjustments
  • Check your supply of batteries, candles, matches and/or lighters
  • Test your emergency radio and flashlights
  • Test smoke detectors

Every Three Months

  • Quiz everyone about:
  • When and how to call 911
  • How to turn off gas, water and electricity
  • Knowing the location of all Emergency and Evacuation Kits
  • Walk to your secondary emergency shelter. We mean everyone! Not only will this ensure you know the route, but in most areas of the country you will experience it in different weather conditions.
  • Hold a fire drill and meet at the designated location outside your home

Every Six Months

  • Review stored food for expiration dates so you can remove and replace it
  • (Prior to expiration this food can be donated to a local food pantry. Such donations quickly make their way to those in need and the tax deduction can help offset the purchase of your replenishments.)
  • Annually
  • Replace the batteries for smoke detectors and smoke alarms
  • Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions


You should feel good about what you have accomplished because you and your family have gone from disaster denial to disaster preparedness. Now, share the knowledge you have gained by helping a friend or distant family member start their own Personal Preaction™ Plan. Better yet, help organize your neighbors to create a plan of their own. To the extent that you can, lend support and insight to those around you who are just now embarking on preparations to become their own first responders.