A disaster can hit at any point of the day, regardless if you are with your loved ones or not. To protect and prepare your family, openly discuss with your loved ones on the best ways to become prepared at home.
Before creating a family emergency plan, it is important to determine the likely threats or emergencies that could impact your community. After you narrow down the possible threats (e.g. flooding, power outages, fire, etc.), carefully craft an adequate response plan for each corresponding scenario. Although each plan should be relatively similar, it is imperative for your loved ones to understand the slight differences between each emergency.
Regardless of the type of emergency, the following steps are universal to the success of any family disaster planning:
- Receiving Emergency Alerts and Warnings
Communication amongst family members on how to best stay updated about emergency alerts and warnings is one of the most paramount ways to properly organize you and your loved ones during the event of an emergency. Whether it is communicating through your cell phones or just simply listening to the radio for alerts, it is best to educate your family members on how to get real-time information.
One of the best ways to stay updated with weather related information is through listening to the radio for updates. However, there is a common worry that people don’t have a radio or no longer get local radio channels. If you feel that you fall into this category, there is now a NOAA Weather Radio application that you can download to your smartphone. This application will give you all the same real-time information that a radio would; but on your smartphone instead. In addition, it is best to ensure that your family members are utilizing social media to be better informed of critical weather updates. Visit the National Weather Service website, type in your zip code and you will be prompted with numerous social media streams informing you of real-time situational awareness.
- Establishing an Emergency Meeting Location
If an emergency event is instantaneous, there is a possibility that you may not be physically present with your family members. There is a possibility that not all members of your family will be able to travel back to your home safely. So, what do you do? Ready.gov recommends making an emergency location plan for your family to meet at a safe location or evacuation shelter. This location can be a library, fire station, or any other type of community center that is very familiar to all family members.
After you establish your meeting location, have each member of the family take the information and put it in the notes section of their cell phones. If you have small children who don’t have access to a cell phone, it is best to tape all of this important information within their backpack or school notebook. Although it is great idea to be constantly refreshing your emergency plan with your children and other members of the family, it is still best to have the information written out, just in case. For your convenience, Ready.gov created a printout copy of an emergency contact sheet that your family can use to best prepare. Lastly, for the family members who have smartphones, it is best to download the application Find My Friends to be able to track each other’s locations effectively. If you somehow are unable to get a hold of one another, you will still be able to have access to their definite location.
- Understanding the Necessary Items for an Emergency Supply Kit
During a disaster, there is a chance that the necessary items to survive will become increasingly limited. Whether there is an electricity outage or you are stranded at home, it is best to create a proper supply kit – filled with life-saving supplies to last you for 72 hours. In return, it is best to educate your family members on all items in the emergency supply kit and where it is located within the house, in case a need arises.
The vital components of an emergency supply kit include a substantial amount of food andwater, flashlight, batteries and radio. However, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are so many more items that should be included, that people typically forget. For example, your emergency supply kit should include a three-day supply of all your medicines and various health supplies for each member of your family. In addition, it is best to keep copies of important documents, such as insurance cards, immunization records, along with paperwork about any medical condition in your supply kit. Lastly, it is important to keep extra cash, set of car keys house keys, and any maps of the area.
It is imperative to open a discussion about emergency preparedness to help educate family members about the necessary steps to prevent or avoid additional damage during a disaster. One of the very first steps in being prepared for a disaster is clearly communicating the severity and importance of preparedness with your loved ones.