Emergency preparedness refers to the actions you take before during and after an emergency or natural disaster. These plans are essential for your safety in both disasters that are man-made (like fires, explosions, terrorist attacks) and ones that are natural (blizzards, tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, wildfires, and floods).
In recent memory events like Hurricane Katrina, 9-11, the California wildfires and locally for me, Super Storm Sandy, made people are more aware of emergencies. Unfortunately, we know of these events, and we think about being prepared, but either we never fully ready or we don’t commit to emergency preparedness at all. Despite warnings from the government and organizations like the American Red Cross, less than half of Americans have created a personal emergency kit.
What would you do in the event of a catastrophic natural disaster where many of the modern systems you typically rely on are out of service? Systems such as electricity, water, and communication. Planning for an emergency can protect more than just your personal property; it can save your life and the lives of others. The tips and strategies found below and in the downloadable image can help you plan to prepare for a multitude of situations.
The Department of Homeland Security suggests thinking about the following when it comes to emergency preparedness:
Put together a plan by discussing/answering these four questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.
- How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings? Keep in mind your cell phone may not be working. During 9-11, many cell phones were not functioning locally because the antenna on top of The World Trade Center had collapsed. Don’t rely on just your cell phone. Do your research and check into WEA (wireless emergency alerts) and the Emergency Alert System. Invest in a battery-operated radio that you can use for Emergency Alerts.
- What is my shelter plan? Will you need to leave your home to find a mass shelter, or can you go somewhere else like a relative or friend’s house? If you need to shelter in place, how should you prepare?
- What is my evacuation route? How will you leave and what route will you take should you need to evacuate. Remember to take into account that your way may be flooded or roads may be damaged.
- What is my family/household communication plan? Keep in mind that not everyone might be home when an emergency strikes. Who do you immediately contact, and how do you do so?
Discuss the needs of your household.
When you put your plan together, make sure to take into account any specific needs you have for your particular family. As a group, discuss who will be responsible for items like communication, children, business, and pets. Keep some of these items in mind when developing your plan:
- Different ages of members within your household (parents, teenagers and young children)
- Responsibilities for assisting others – especially the elderly
- Dietary needs (maybe someone has diabetes in the group or is gluten intolerant)
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment (for example wheelchairs)
- Pets or service animals
Create a Family Emergency Plan
You must have a family emergency plan to follow in the event of a disaster. The document below is a great guide to create your own or fill out this one to create a family emergency plan.
Practice your plan
Once your plan is complete, you need to practice it. The first time you use your plan should be when there is an emergency.
Build a Basic Disaster Supply Kit (Go-Bag)
A basic disaster supply kit or “Go-Bag” is something you should plan for and always have at the ready. The wildfires in California are a perfect example of the need for a go-bag. At a moment’s notice, you can be forced from your home, and you need to be ready and able to leave immediately. Each individual person in your family should have their own go-bag fitting their needs. The best types of go-bags are backpacks or some sort of nylon bag, preferably water repellant. If you’ve taken the time to pack a go-bag, the last thing you want is for water to ruin the contents.
This bag should contain essential supplies for three days, including the following:
- One gallon of water (per person) per day
- A first aid kit
- Non-perishable food
- Pet Food
- Cell phone charger
- Any valuable documents such as birth certificates, insurance cards, passports, drivers licenses, your will, etc. (sealed in plastic bags)
Amazon is a great place to start when looking for a go-bag. You can purchase a simple bag that you fill yourself or a more elaborate go-bag for two that is already prepared for you. The choice is yours.
If you’re still uncertain about how to prepare, keep this handy emergency preparedness checklist on hand at all times.
You never know when an emergency or natural disaster will strike, so be prepared at all times. From a blizzard to an act of terrorism, you must be ready for the worst. I don’t post this to cause panic but more as a reminder to be prepared at all times.
Do you practice emergency preparedness regularly in your home? Comment below on how you prepare.
For more visit, our friend The Prepping Wife for additional tips and ideas.
I love being prepared! It is like an insurance policy that I control and can adapt it to fit my individual and family needs. It helps remove the panic for me, because I have a plan. It is along the same lines as practicing a fire drill when we were kids. Practice makes perfect! Thank you so much for including my blog in this post! Emergency Preparedness is something I think everyone should be doing.
My pleasure Erica.
These are great tips! We have recently sat down and discussed this as a family. We don’t get a lot of natural disasters in North Alabama but we do get tornadoes and dangerous storms. We all have individual backpacks with the necessities and copies of our information. We also have High- Vis and PPE clothing so we can help others in a disaster situation.
Good to see you are on top of this!
Having an emergency plan is so important. Thanks for this emergency checklist. We’re currently experiencing major wild fires here in Australia and we need to be prepared.
I’ve been reading about those wildfires Much like California here in the US!
This is a must-read. It’s the season where you’ll never know what’s going to happen within an hour or so. It is very important to be prepared.
This is such a great list becasue as I was reading it over I thought several times, ‘huh, never would of thought of that’ so I will definitely be making a copy and creating an emergency bag. It’s one of those things I always think of doing but never actually do. But I can really see the importance of it! Great write up, thanks for sharing!
First I’m wondering where you are when you referred to “Super Storm Sandy.” Are you in NJ by any chance?
Second, I am literally the worst when it comes to preparedness and we have to do this EVERY YEAR! Each year when hurricane season approaches I literally forget. Fortunately I have a brother who lives in Pennsylvania who is ALWAYS watching the weather where we live and it is usually he who contacts me when I need to start getting concerned. He will literally text me all week telling me where the hurricane is and what category it is at and he will send me snapshots of it’s path and predictability of it coming towards us. Then if it is in our path he starts asking me if I have stuff and if I don’t he will order it on Amazon and have it shipped. He will even tell me where the sandbag distribution is for my area and evacuation centers. He is pretty amazing and I really am glad I have him because the needs of my kids are so great that I really only have enough brain power to deal with the day to day duties and struggles that raising special needs kids entails.
Alexandra, I live on Long Island so that was my reference to Superstorm Sandy.
Fantastic post! It is always good no matter where you live to have a game plan and some things prepared for just in case. My husband and I have a “To go bag” put together that has a bunch of emergency supplies, things to survive in the wilderness, etc. Not much happens where we live but it is comforting to know we have it.