Residential Care Facility Planning Guide


Each facility is unique. It may be beneficial to work with others when developing plans, but make sure the plan you adopt fits your situation.

Inform residents what could happen during a disaster and the steps being taken to provide for their safety. Involve residents in the process whenever possible by incorporating their suggestions.


Develop an employee training program. Include training on procedures for providing first aid, securing utilities, suppressing fire, calming and directing residents, conducting light search and rescue, evacuating the facility, providing emergency power, supplying water and food, and providing care to residents with special needs.

Evaluate each room in the facility to determine how it might perform in a disaster. Secure medical equipment, heavy appliances, bookcases, plants, and other items that might fall. Place heavy objects on low shelves. Move beds away from windows. Check exit routes and remove items that might block them after an earthquake. Determine a gathering place outside, far enough from the building to be clear of falling debris and safe in case of fire. Install automatic security lights in each room and hallway. Stock supplies using supply lists that have been developed for homes and businesses. Be sure to add the following:

Keep part of your emergency supplies, including an extra first-aid kit, outside the facility in storage shed or other nearby secure location. Unless a change in medication is imminent, keep at least a seven-to-ten day supply of prescription medications in a secure area. Have a plastic trash bag nearby so that medicines may be gathered quickly when evacuating the building.


Identify a safe spot in each room where residents can go when the earthquake occurs. If they can't reach the safe spot, teach them to get down on the ground, or as low as possible, and cover their heads with their arms. Conduct earthquake drills with staff and residents regularly.

Hold drills to test the facility's earthquake plan. Emphasize to residents that their caregivers are prepared. Hold private discussions with staff after each drill to determine what worked and what procedures need to be changed.

When a quake occurs, staff members need to consider their own personal safety first. They will not be able to provide for those in their care if they are severely injured themselves. Staff should assist able residents to safety before returning to assist the more frail or injured individuals.

Special tips

Maintain a list of medications and equipment for each resident; the name, address and phone number of each resident's doctor and pharmacist; and the names address and phone number of a relative or guardian.

If a resident uses equipment to aid mobility, have him or her keep it nearby at all times. Place extra canes near exits. Store extra hearing aid batteries and eyeglasses in a secure area.

Washington State Military Department, Emergency Management Division