Emergencies or natural disasters can happen at any time. Emergency preparedness is the best way to protect your family and to stay safe if disaster strikes. The basic components of a good home emergency plan include creating a written plan, practicing the plan and gathering emergency supplies and documents.
Prepare and practice
A written plan is the first step toward emergency response and readiness. It will help keep you and your family connected and help minimize panic. The plan should consider a variety of scenarios including:
- What type of disasters to anticipate (fire, earthquake, hurricanes, etc.)
- Whether you are at home or in different locations in the event of an emergency
- Evacuation routes within your home or community
- Remote meeting locations
- Communication plans
Talk through scenarios if an emergency happens while the family is separated at school and work. Establish safe zones within your home for scenarios like earthquakes or tornados. Designate a remote meeting location at a nearby school or park for scenarios like fire or flood. Designate a person who lives in another state as your central contact person in the event that cell service is unavailable in the area impacted by the disaster.
After devising a plan, practice it. It’s vital for your family to know how to respond and stay safe.
Build an emergency kit
Creating a ‘go bag’ will save valuable time and ensure you have everything you need if you must evacuate. Ideally, your emergency kit should fit in one or two easy-to-carry bags. The following are must-have items that you should have ready to go:
- Important documents: Essential documents include proof of address, passports, birth certificates, and insurance policies. Be sure to keep these documents updated.
- Cash: In the event that nearby banks or ATMs are inaccessible, be sure to have a couple hundred dollars on hand.
- Essential items: Flashlight, first aid kit, hand sanitizer, disinfectants wipes, face masks, medical supplies, personal hygiene supplies, and baby supplies.
- Sleeping bag or blankets
- Complete change of clothes and sturdy shoes for each person in the household
- Pet food and water
- Paper or plastic utensils, plates and paper towels
In addition to a ‘go bag’, it is recommended that you store enough food and water for 72 hours:
- Non-perishable food: Pack foods that can be stored for long periods of time such as dry cereal, protein bars, and canned fruits and vegetables.
- Water: Store at least one gallon of water per person, per day.
Once a year, review the contents of the emergency kit, replace expired items and update the contents with changing family needs.
6 Ps of evacuation
If you are forced to leave your home, be sure to grab your ‘go bag’ and remember the 6 Ps of evacuation. To make things easy, pin this list to the top of your emergency kit:
- People and pets
- Personal computer
- Purse and plastic: credit cards and wallets
- Papers: essentials documents should already be in your emergency kit
- Prescriptions: all necessary daily medications you or your family take
- Pictures: wedding photos, baby albums and other irreplaceable mementos
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