Disasters can happen quickly and most times without warning. You never know when basic services, such as gas, electricity, water or telephones will be cut off. Your family must be prepared for this by planning. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Here are some ways to help prepare your family for disaster planning.
Learn what Disasters and Emergencies Can Occur
Know what to prepare for by calling your local emergency management office or American Red Cross chapter. Learn what disasters can happen rather it’s manmade or natural and find out what the best ways are to prepare for each one. Found out what public warning systems your community has and what they sound like. Learn the disaster plans at your workplace, school, daycare, or other places where your family may spend a lot of time.
Create and Implement a Family Disaster Plan
Set up a family meeting to discuss what plan needs to be in place and the importance of the plan. Keep the plan simple enough for everybody to understand and follow. This is a team effort and everybody must know what part they play. Explain the dangers of the type of disasters that may occur in your area. Everybody should know what to do in each instance. By discussing everything before disaster strikes, it will allow everyone to be calm and execute the plan.
You then need to make sure you have two meeting places for your family in the event that everyone is not together. They should be familiar with the locations and know the address. Right outside of your home in case of a sudden emergency or outside of your neighborhood in case you can’t return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood. Separation will play a big factor if the disaster occurs during the times parents are at work and the children are at school. You need to have a plan of getting everybody together.
You should set a primary person outside of the disaster area as your family’s primary contact. Family members should call the contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone must know the contact’s name, address, and phone number. Find out about shelters in the contact’s area or arrange to stay with that contact if possible. Plan your escape routes and get familiar with them. You should always have alternate escape routes in place.
If you have pets plan on how you will care for them during a disaster. Unless your pet(s) are service animals they are not permitted to be in places where food is served, according to many local health department regulations. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted. Make sure you post all important phone numbers and emergency numbers next to all phones in your home.
Practice Makes Perfect
Once you have your plan implemented it is important you practice it as a family so it will become second nature when the time comes. You may need to modify and change the plan a little over a period of time. Conducting actual drills with your family will help them be better prepared. You should drive all evacuation routes that are designated in your plan. This should be performed at least twice a year. Make sure to keep stored food and water. Also restock after six months to keep goods refreshed. Check your smoke alarms every month and run tests on them to ensure they are working well. Replace batteries if needed. The National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission has recommended that you change out your fire alarms every ten years. Also make sure to test all fire extinguishers.
These are a few steps to help get you and your family prepared for a disaster or emergency.