Disaster Preparedness Tips from CALA Members

Evacuation Ideas

  • Think about how you can work with other communities in your area to ensure that all possible evacuation sites are ready and available if need be. Be prepared to help shelter other residents in the event that a neighboring community needs to evacuate.
  • Try keeping maps, layouts, and evacuation routes in the evacuation section of your disaster plan. Having all evacuation procedures in one place may make it easier for your safety team to coordinate evacuation efforts.
  • Consider primary, secondary and perhaps even tertiary evacuation sites. This way if your primary site is full you have back up plans.
  • If you also have residents living in unlicensed units, they may be willing to keep a list of their medications on hand, so that you will know exactly what their medication needs are once you are off site.

Staff Organization

  • Designate a Public Liaison to communicate with family members, CCLD, the media, and other communities in the event of relocation. Designating communication responsibilities maintains organization in an emergency.
  • Designate a first aid team to attend to basic injuries, triage residents and call 911 when appropriate.
  • Ensure that staff regularly checks the availability of things like batteries, back up lighting and first aid kits so that they are stocked and ready to use in case of an emergency.


  • At the beginning of the disaster plan, it may be a good idea to state the plan’s purpose and goals. This plan will be available to residents and family members, so making an effort to reassure them that your primary concern is for the safety and security of the residents, staff and emergency responders may help calm any concerns.
  • Whenever possible, try to avoid referencing other sections of the disaster plan. Repeat information if necessary; the more readily available the information is, the quicker staff can respond to the emergency.
  • Keeping a photograph of equipment such as emergency shut off valves in the disaster plan can help staff easily recognize where a particular valve or piece of equipment is located.
  • Keeping all staff contact information, hospice contact information, hospital phone numbers, etc. at the front of your disaster plan may be helpful, so that as soon as an emergency need is identified the resources are available to contact the appropriate people is ready.


  • Running drills on a regular basis helps to ensure that staff knows how to handle an emergency situation. Do they know where emergency shut-offs are? Do they know where extra blankets or flashlights are kept?
  • Consider having staff, management, and residents evaluate the drills so that you know where confusion may occur or where there may be weaknesses in your disaster plan.
  • Get to know your local fire authority. Invite them to drills. This is a good way to stay in communication and ensure that everyone knows your evacuation plan and needs.
  • It may also be a good idea to stay in contact with your local Office of Emergency Services. They may have some good suggestions on emergency planning and conducting disaster drills.

Resident Involvement

  • Consider distributing instructions to residents when they move in to your community. Some communities recommend to their residents that they hang them inside a kitchen cabinet. This way, residents will have immediate instructions on what to do in certain emergencies.
  • It could be helpful to start a disaster kit program for your residents. Provide them each with a bag and a list of suggested supplies, and ask the families and residents to determine what supplies they would need. This allows each resident to feel as though they are part of the planning, as well as ensuring that they each have the things that they need in the event of an emergency.
  • Consider handing out bells to residents so that they can continue to communicate with staff if emergency call buttons are inoperable.
  • Keeping plug-in, rechargeable flashlights in each resident’s room could be one way of ensuring that they have immediate access to emergency lighting.