Are you ready if an emergency disrupts your life? Do you have a plan in place to protect your family before a disaster happens?

“By using community resources, information from the Internet and even items from your own home, your family can develop an effective emergency plan that gives you peace of mind without a big price tag,” said Diane Ward, CHN of Herkimer County Public Health.

She suggested these free or low-cost preparedness tips: Add an entry called “ICE,” for “In Case of Emergency,” to your cell phone contact list. This number should dial the family member who can respond to medical decisions if you are injured or unconscious. List backup emergency contacts as ICE1, ICE2, etc.

Attend emergency preparedness events, including fairs, exhibits, first aid training, and children’s photo identification programs. These events often offer emergency planning kits, first aid kits, flashlights, and information on sheltering and emergency pet care. Take advantage of photo identification cards for your children. Some schools, in conjunction with school photography businesses, offer ID cards.

Use the Internet to find free templates for phone lists and ID cards, emergency plans and event notices. The American Academy of Pediatrics has emergency family card templates at www.aap.org. The Internet also has evacuation plans, personal assistance plans and recommended emergency supply lists for people with disabilities. Libraries offer free Internet services for people without personal computer access.

List numbers for ambulance, poison control center, doctors, and weather updates. Keep the list on the refrigerator and near all phones. Add these numbers to your ICE list.

Create a family and friends contact list and keep copies in your child’s backpack, your wallet and at work. Explain to your children when to use the contact list. If possible, include a recent photo of family members and pets.

Develop a comprehensive family emergency plan. Recycle a binder and keep these materials together. Include the following:

•An emergency plan to get out of the house. Practice regularly with your family.

•A location where family members will meet if they are separated and unable to return home. Review this with everyone.

•A family and friends contact sheet. Include an out-of-state person that can help coordinate your family’s whereabouts if separated.

•All emergency plans at school, work and home. Adults and children should know them.

•Copies of essential items, including identification cards, credit cards, extra set of house and car keys, insurance and health policies, current family photos and cash.

•A list of medications, medical history, allergies, blood type and other critical information for everyone in the household.

•Pet information, including photos, vet records, and boarding information. Most emergency shelters do not allow pets. Contact your County Emergency Management Office and ask where you could leave your pet if necessary.

Keep a backpack filled with clothing for each family member, high-energy foods, flashlights, and first aid kit. Visit emergency web sites for tailoring these “grab and go” bags. Pack one for work, too.

Purchase food and other emergency items in bulk or share costs with another family. Collect coupons to lower the cost of these items and watch for sales. Include powered milk, peanut butter, crackers, granola bars and other high-energy foods. Consider including flashlights and radios and extra batteries, disposable diapers, baby food and formula, paper products, bleach and plastic bags. Rotate as necessary.

Assemble an emergency car kit from extra items you may have at home. Consider: comfortable walking shoes, warm jacket, blankets, flashlight and extra batteries, portable or battery-operated radio, first aid kit, personal medical information, foil water pouches or bottled water.

For more preparedness tips visit: nyhealth.gov, ready.gov.