Natural disasters affect thousands of people every year, and with the increased risk of severe thunderstorms, flash flooding and tornadoes in the spring and summer months, it’s a good idea to think about having an emergency plan in place. Consider preparing a family emergency plan now before it’s needed.

Have an open discussion with your family about the types of emergencies that could happen. These include severe weather like tornadoes, natural disasters like fires and even civil unrest like rioting or acts of terrorism.

Designate a meeting place in the event you cannot return home. It’s a good idea to choose both a neighborhood meeting place and a place to meet outside of your neighborhood in case you can’t access the area surrounding your home. If you have pets, ensure the meeting places you choose will accept them if you have to evacuate your home for any length of time.

Pick an out-of-town friend or relative as an emergency contact. When disaster strikes, it could be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town. Your out-of-town contact could help communicate and reunite separated family members or assist with an evacuation. Make sure every member of your family has the phone number for your out-of-town emergency contact person.

If you have children, communicate with their schools and daycare providers. Make sure you know the emergency plan at your child’s school or daycare provider. Find out how they plan to communicate with families during a crisis, whether they’re prepared to “shelter in place” and where they plan to go if they must leave.