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Preparing for Future Disasters

Throughout life there are many different situations that an individual can experience while at home, on the farm, at work, or when relaxing with family.  These situations can be wonderful experiences or they could be a disaster such as a flood, tornado, fire, or accident.  To assist rural families in planning for various disasters, Purdue Extension and the University of Nebraska hosted an Emergency Preparedness for Rural Families program series in March.  This series started with the development of an emergency action plan.

An emergency action plan is designed to provide farm families and emergency personnel clear and concise information about the farm if a disaster would occur.  It is best for the entire family and staff on the farm to work together to develop the plan as a way to increase awareness of potential emergency situations and provide different perspectives on how situations can be addressed. 

An emergency action plan should include:

  • locations of hazards and risks identified on a farm map;
  • communication plans between family/employees/emergency personnel;
  • development and placement of disaster kits;
  • information on how to evacuate and/or shelter in place; and
  • location financial plans/important records.


One of the harder parts of developing the emergency action plan is the map.  A farm’s emergency action plan map should include all of the locations involved in your operation along with an inventory of your equipment and your livestock.  If you have multiple sites/fields within your operation, you may want to add GPS coordinates, physical addresses, and common descriptions your family may know, such as “West Pasture,” “Hilly Field,” or “Grandpa’s Field.” You will want to mark where grain bins, fuel tanks, pesticide storage, manure pits, well heads, etc. are located.  Your map can be made by hand or could be developed utilizing a computer and computerized mapping. Put enough detail into the map, so that if an emergency happens and individuals need to look at it, they can figure out where everything is and prevent the situation from becoming worse.

Purdue Extension and Indiana PREPared encourages all farm families to spend time developing an emergency action plan.  They have a dedicated website developed with information on why you should develop a plan, how to develop a plan, and a template that can be used to develop a plan.  Within their “Tips and Guidance” document, they have suggestions on how to develop the map and what you should include on the map.  To access this information, please visit their website  or contact Purdue Extension – Putnam County at 765-653-8411 for a paper copy of the documents.  These free resources are available to help families become more prepared for future disasters.  

If you would develop an emergency action plan, please realize these are living documents and should be updated periodically.  Additionally, these documents should be located in spots where someone can quickly grab it and utilize it when a disaster occurs.  Therefore, it is best to have an electronic copy available, but also paper copies available in strategic places that individuals can quickly access.

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