Summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors. Summer is also prime-time for extreme weather events in the United States. Delta pilots live in every part of the country where tornadoes, hurricanes, wildfires and severe storms are likely to impact. If you live in areas prone to such hazards, you are probably familiar with typical precautions. However, what about preparations that only become obvious with hindsight? Here are some guidelines from FEMA based on real world experience.

Have a Plan

It sounds like a no-brainer, but if you are on a trip and your home loses power\internet\cell coverage, do you know what your family’s plan is? If you live in an area that is prone to flash floods or fires, you may not have the luxury of developing a plan and tweaking it as the threat approaches. Ensuring everyone is on the same page when it comes to evacuation routes and communications can go a long way in preventing stress and confusion.

Have an out-of-town contact who can relay information for you and plan where your loved ones will go in the event of a disaster that puts you out of communication. Did you know that Delta has a contact for family emergencies? Crew members’ families can call 404-715-0201 to reach out to an otherwise out-of-contact family member (in-flight, foreign layover). Having a “go-bag” may bring visions of eccentric Y2K preppers, but it can be a practical precaution to ensure nothing is forgotten if an evacuation is required on short notice. Consider including extra medications, copies of important documents and PED chargers.

Don’t Forget the Pets

Keep in mind that due to health and safety reason, many emergency shelters will not allow pets. A good alternative can be pet friendly hotels. Check out for possible options. If you are considering boarding your pet, be prepared to provide medical records to prove vaccinations. If you decide not to evacuate, store enough food to last at least three days in an airtight, waterproof container. Similarly, ensure at least three days of water per pet.

Tell Someone

If you find yourself impacted by some type of disaster, reach out! During outreach efforts last summer, ALPA volunteers were surprised to find fellow pilots stranded in hotels between trips because they couldn’t commute home. They were unaware of positive space options, as well as trip drops/modifications that chief pilots were authorized to provide. As a natural disaster unfolds the level of accommodation available can change. If the need isn’t known, the support may not be there. Contact ALPA or your chief pilot early and often so the response can keep up with the need.

We practice V1 cuts, wear seatbelts and buy insurance – forethought will pay off in a disaster. When the need is there, there is no replacement for proper preparation. Developing a disaster plan may illicit eye-rolls from the rest of the family, but it’s hard to deny that fortune favors the prepared.

Helpful Websites 

Wildfire Preparedness and Safety

Hurricane Safety



A Red Cross “ready to go” preparedness kit showing the bag and it’s contents. Red Cross photograph