Disaster Preparedness for Families with Parents who are LGBT

Natural disasters such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires, and tornados are frightening for families and children, but preparation and recovery can be even scarier for families with parents who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender. This guide will help you prepare for any disaster by building a plan for your family, gathering all the necessary documentation, and creating a disaster kit.


The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends that every family have a plan in place when disaster strikes. You can download a sample plan to fill out and mail to friends and relatives at www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/FamEmePlan_2012.pdf. Begin thinking about:

  • A neighborhood meeting place
  • An out-of-town meeting place
  • Emergency contact numbers 
  • Work and school numbers


Your family may not live in a state that recognizes second-parent or joint adoption. Your state may not offer marriage equality. Even if your family’s relationships are all legally recognized, you may have to travel somewhere that doesn’t recognize those relationships. Gather any legal documents and make sure you have five copies: 1) in a safe place in your home; 2) on a thumb drive for easy access; 3) in your disaster kit in case you need to leave in a hurry; 4) in a safety deposit box at your local bank or at a friend’s house and 5) emailed to yourself or saved in online storage. Visit our Parent Resources page for more information and for samples of these documents. These documents may include:

  • Marriage/Domestic Partner/Civil Union License: records of your legally recognized relationship with your partner.
  • Adoption Decrees: records of your legally recognized relationship with your child or parent.
  • Birth Certificates: records of your legally recognized relationship with your child or parent.
  • Wills: records of the distribution of your estate.
  • Powers of Attorney (Medical, Financial): records indicating who can make decisions for you in case you cannot.
  • Living Will/Advanced Directive: records indicating your wishes for medical care


The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends you build a basic disaster kit with the following supplies. Don’t forget to add photocopies of any important documents, as well as any supplies you or your children will need if you have to leave in a hurry. Visit www.ready.gov/basic-disaster-supplies-kit for more information.

  • Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days 
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio 
  • First aid kit 
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger 
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties 
  • Manual can opener for food 
  • Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps


  • Always call 911 if you have a medical emergency or need immediate attention.
  • Call Family Equality Council for more information or if you are interested in advocating for inclusive shelters and disaster preparedness: (617) 502-8700
  • Call the Federal Emergency Management Agency if you are a survivor of a disaster and need assitance: (800) 621-FEMA (3362)