Emergencies affect us all. Imagine having a child fall ill while at child care or having an accident while traveling. An unexpected call about a death in the family can derail a day, a week or even months.
Floods, structure fires, blizzards, heatwaves, tornadoes, forest fires, and earthquakes affect more than just our families. Whole communities, states and nations may need to respond.
How can you prepare your home and family to be ready for the most likely emergencies you’ll face?
- Look around your home and think about what could go wrong.
- Prepare a plan for those events.
- Practice the plan often.
- Create an emergency binder and a “go bag”.
- Tell your neighbors and family about your emergency plans.
For example, let’s plan for a home fire.
Before the emergency:
- Install smoke detectors and replace the batteries once a year on a schedule.
- Have an ABC fire extinguisher located near an exit.
- Prepare your Emergency Binder that has important documents or copies of documents such as ID’s, mortgage, insurance, contact numbers including work and childcare, banking, wills, etc.
- Prepare your “go bag” (backpack or duffle) with essential items for family members: medicines, first aid kit, emergency blankets, snacks, water, flashlight/headlamps…anything to get you through a few hours outside of your home.
- Brainstorm with your household members, the best ways to exit the home, how to stay put if a safe way through the fire was not available.
- Designate a gathering spot away from the structure to re-unite, possibly a neighbor’s home or a nearby public place.
- Designate when and who will call 911.
Practice! Practice! Practice!
- Practice during daylight hours when everyone is awake.
- Practice another time when everyone has gone to sleep (set an alarm).
- Have children practice exiting without help of adults.
- Practice several times each year.
- After each practice session, review how things went.
- Was everyone able to leave on their own?
- Were documents secured?
- Did everyone remember where to meet? Was 911 called? (PRETEND; do not call during a drill!)
- What will you do the same or differently next time?
Emergencies can bring out the best and worst in us. Preparing yourself and your family members for these events can help minimize anxiety, fear, and harm in an actual event.
For more information on preparing your home and family: https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.