PEARL – To increase your chances of surviving a disaster, everyone in Mississippi should have or review their emergency plan.

As part of Mississippi’s Hurricane Preparedness week, MEMA Director Robert Latham urges individuals and families to discuss their Family Disaster Plans before the start of hurricane season on June 1. The plan should include an evacuation method and route, a communications plan and a disaster supply kit.

“Preparing before a disaster strikes is what really saves lives,” Latham said. “A disaster plan can save your life during a disaster. Now is the time to have the conversation with your family about how you would carry out your family’s emergency plan.”

Mississippians should contact their county emergency management directors to learn about emergency plans for their area, locations of shelters and evacuation routes. They should identify ahead of time the places they will go, and even the route they will take if they have to evacuate.

Last year during Hurricane Isaac, hundreds of citizens had to be rescued as a result of rising water. Heavy rains and storm surge will almost always be associated with tropical systems resulting in high water. Once tropical storm force winds begin, first responders may not be able reach citizens stranded as a result of rising water.

Following an evacuation, a communications plan can help residents locate family members and friends who also evacuated. During and after a storm, telephone service will likely be limited. It is often easier to call long distance, outside the disaster area, or even a text message from a mobile device. Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to serve as the family contact person. Make sure all family members know the name, address and telephone number for this contact person.

Develop and maintain a Family Disaster Supply Kit with life sustaining items such as non-perishable food and water for at least three to five days, a first aid kit with prescription medications, a battery-powered radio, flashlight and extra batteries, cash and traveler’s checks and specialty items such as baby formula and pet-care items. For more information on important items to include in your disaster supply kit go to,

Governor Phil Bryant declared May 27-31 as Hurricane Preparedness Week.

For more information about emergency preparedness, visit

The public is encouraged to follow MEMA on Twitter and Facebook for updates.