Disaster has been striking our nation, and the world, recently – earthquakes, tornadoes, severe flooding, tsunamis, hurricanes … What would you do if one of these disasters happened to you?
- Does your family have a plan outlining the steps you need to take in an emergency?
- Do you have a good disaster supplies kit prepared and easily accessible?
- What will you do when it's actually time to evacuate?
DOES YOUR FAMILY HAVE A PLAN OUTLINING STEPS YOU NEED TO TAKE IN AN EMERGENCY?
The first component of your emergency plan should be to make sure your family knows how to respond to any possible danger. What would you do in the case of a fire, severe weather, or an earthquake? You can not assume your family will be together at the time of an emergency. Each member needs to be equipped with knowledge on how to respond. It is a great idea to make a one page summary of each type of emergency that is likely to occur in your area. Set aside one evening each week to go over one scenario with your family. Do this for a few weeks in a row. This is a great chance to make sure they understand and enable you to answer any questions or concerns they may have.
Once you have a general plan for any situation you will need to nail down some specific details which will be relevant in ALL emergencies such as communication, contacts, meeting spots, etc. You will need to ensure that your communications streams are effective. Your family members should all have contact information for key people such as a relative out of state, a contact person in your neighborhood, emergency phone numbers, etc. You will need to be able to coordinate in case you get separated or normal means of communication are not available. Having an out of state contact is especially important as typically they will be easier to get a hold of than someone in the middle of the crisis. One thing that will help with communication is to determine where your family will meet in an emergency. What if your house is inaccessible due to road closures? Do you have a back up location? Ask your child's school for a copy of their emergency plan for you to keep at home or work.
The final component of your emergency plan is to protect your personal documents. You should store all of your important family records in a fire and water-proof container. In the midst of a horrible disaster, the last thing you want to have happens is to have to find a way to prove who you are. You'll want to be able to access money from your banks, but will not be able to without bank account numbers, and proof of identification. It's also a good idea to make copies of these documents and put them in a folder in your "disaster supplies kit" that you will bring with you.
DO YOU HAVE A GOOD DISASTER SUPPLIES KIT READY?
When preparing for a possible emergency situation, it's best to think first about the basics of survival: fresh water, food, clean air and warmth. Some people call putting these things together an emergency kit, a disaster supplies kit, or an emergency car kit. Your kit should be in a portable container located near an exit of your house. Most importantly, you will want to include fresh water, and your 72 hour food kit. You will also want to include items for warmth and shelter, tools, first aid supplies, communication sources, money, important papers and personal sanitation items. You never know what disaster could strike, so it's best to be fully prepared.
WHAT WILL YOU DO WHEN IT'S ACTUALLY TIME TO EVACUATE?
You will need to think quickly if you have to evacuate your home. Deciding what to do in the middle of a crisis is not the best time. Plan ahead! Make sure you have your own emergency plan in place. Have your disaster supplies kit ready and easily accessible. Turn off utilities such as water, gas, and electricity before you leave. Let others know where you are going. Have specified escape routes in place including how to exit your house, your evacuation route, and a backup route (or follow the routes excluded by local officials). If you have done everything possible to prepare for this moment, you should be able to face the emergency with confidence and the ability to survive.