Planning for a Disaster: Emergency Preparedness Essentials
July 12, 2017
Disasters can strike when you least expect them, which is why it is important to have an emergency action plan and disaster recovery kit ready to keep your family safe. Whether you are worried about a hurricane, a flood or other natural disaster, prepping now keeps you ready for whatever nature throws your way. Use this guide to get your disaster recovery plan and emergency response supplies prepped and stored in your home.
Print out Emergency Preparedness Checklists
When a natural disaster strikes, you need to know the steps to follow to keep your family safe. Print out an emergency preparedness checklist for each type of disaster you can reasonably expect to occur, and store a copies in places like the kitchen, basement and in each bedroom to make it easy for everyone to find a copy when needed. Keep them stored in a binder, and use plastic protective sleeves to keep each checklist clean and ready to read in an emergency.
The American Red Cross offers emergency preparedness checklists for tornadoes, fires, chemical disasters, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and just about any other natural disaster imaginable. Use these checklists as-is, or use them as a guide to create custom checklists for your home.
Formulate an Emergency Response Plan for Each Disaster
Who will make sure the pets in the home are accounted for? Who is in charge of first aid if needed? Answering these questions ahead of time prevents everyone from panicking in an emergency. Create emergency response plans to go with each emergency preparedness checklist, and give every person in the family a job to do. Be sure to include contact numbers for your homeowners insurance policy, local government agencies, utility companies and any relatives you may need to check on in an emergency. Consider saving a copy in each family member's smartphone for an added layer of protection.
Create an Emergency Supply Storage Area
In the event that disaster strikes, it is important to have emergency supplies to last until help arrives. Identify an area in the home where these items can be stored. A metal shelving unit in the basement designated for emergencies only is a great option. Use large plastic storage containers to organize your disaster recovery supplies, and label them for easy access. Assign containers for food, first aid supplies, clothing and blankets, and communication devices. Use the lower shelf for heavy items, such as gallons of water or a portable generator.
Gather Emergency Supplies
Plan on having enough emergency supplies to last between three and seven days. A gallon of water per person per day is recommended, but plan on having extra if there are infants, elderly people or pets in your group. Keep nonperishable foods, such as canned vegetables, chili, beans, crackers and soups, in one of your plastic containers. Don't forget to add a manual can opener to the container. Be sure to invest in a large first aid kit, and add an emergency supply of any prescription medications you or your family members take to the kit. Be sure to gather flashlights, batteries, radios and backup phone batteries for your supply area also. If finding the time to shop for all these items is a challenge, consider purchasing a prepackaged emergency preparedness kit. These kits typically come with batteries, LED flashlights, small first aid kits, hand warmers and gloves.
Plan for Fun
Having fun isn't out of the question during a natural disaster. Keeping toys and games in your emergency supply area can help fight off boredom and provide some time for bonding as a family. This also makes it easier to keep young children calm and prevent them from being scared while you wait for help. Choose a few beloved board games and some small puzzles for adults and older children, and add stuffed animals for younger children to cuddle. Coloring books, markers and crayons make it easy to keep toddlers and preschool-aged children entertained.
Emergency response plans, checklists and emergency supplies are the keys to dealing with a natural disaster. Once your emergency action plan is in place, you won't need to take much time out of your busy schedule to maintain it. Simply go over the plan with your family once per year to ensure everyone knows what is expected of them when disaster strikes.
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