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.