Something we all need is an emergency plan. Being prepared for any natural disaster we could face at home, work, friends and families houses, anywhere we frequent, is the key to “weathering the storm”. At places of business, hotels, apartment buildings, restaurants, etc., these plans are laid out for us. Near exits, on the back of doors, you’ll find signs that show where you are and where to go in case of emergency. But have you established these designated zones and exits and shelters in your own home?
There are certain steps that can help you in emergency situations that you can implement today, and maybe you someday they’ll prove useful, maybe they won’t, but it’s always better to expect the worst and never have it happen than to be blind-sided.
Step 1: GATHER UP HOUSEHOLD REQUIREMENTS
You’ll want to have a list of family members (including pets) to be given to emergency personnel so everyone can be accounted for, a small stockpile of medication for those who need it, along with any personal hygiene needs, emergency contact lists, a list of any medical issues that the individual members may have, an emergency medical kit (including bandages, burn cream, eyewash, etc), extra money, flashlights, non-perishable foods, etc. More information will be given in the “Go-Bag” section of this article.
Step 2: ESTABLISH MEETING PLACES/SAFE HAVENS
It is important to notify everyone of a safe place to go and meet should an emergency make it necessary for you to separate, especially children. There should be a neighbor that the whole family knows and trusts where your child can safely await the arrival of the rest of the household.
You should also know the safest location to wait out a rough storm. An area of the basement, a bathroom, an underground shelter, these locations can save you a lot of scrambling while seeking shelter. Notify neighbors if they are designated as a safe place for your family.
Step 3: PREPARE “GO-BAGS”
Every household member should have a bag somewhere accessible and safe that they can grab and run when needed. Inside the bag should be a change of clothes, water, any basic needs (not luxury items!) only, in order to be able to be as light-weight and quick as possible. You might also want to include copies of personal information and identification of whose bag it is. Most police stations offer Safety ID Kits for free that are light, small, and contain tons of information to identify your household members. There should also be a multi-tool and any chargers for phones to stay in contact.
Step 4: KNOW YOUR ROLE
Every member should have a specific task, from gathering up the Requirement Bag, to helping animals get out safely, calling loved ones to let them know what happened to calling emergency services. Everyone should contribute, if they are capable, and these tasks should be handed out specifically ahead of time in order to reduce confusion.
Step 5: REVIEW AND DRILL
This may be one of the most important steps, so don’t neglect it! Run practice drills, just like in school. Review regularly with your family to keep everyone aware of how important their role is during an emergency. This is all about protecting yourself and your loved ones, so review it monthly and keep your information current.
More information and checklists are available at www.redcross.org/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies