No one wants to think something bad is going to happen. Yet unfortunately natural disasters do occur and you need to be prepared. Sometimes a little preparation and planning can go a long way. Here are some very helpful suggestions on ways to protect yourself and your family.
This first thing you should to do is create a family disaster plan. Discuss with all members of your immediate family what you would do if family members are not home when an emergency warning is issued. Your family plan should address the following:
Draw a floor plan of your home. Use a blank sheet of paper for each floor. Mark two escape routes from each room. Make sure children understand the drawings. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child’s room.
Where to Meet
Establish a place to meet in the event of an emergency, such as a fire. Set several meeting places: one near the home (for example, the next door neighbor’s telephone pole), one outside the immediate area (for example, the neighborhood grocery store parking lot), etc. Write it down and keep it where everyone can see it.
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another. Think about how you will communicate in different situations.
Complete a contact card for each family member. Have family members keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse, backpack, etc. You may want to send one to school with each child to keep on file. Pick a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. A copy should also be included in your family disaster supplies kit.
If you have a cell phone, be sure to mark your emergency contacts with the letters ICE for “in case of emergency,” so that emergency responders know who to contact if you become injured or otherwise incapacitated. If your kids are old enough to have their own cell phones, program them with numbers for grandparents, aunts, uncles, and other emergency contacts, and mark a few ICE numbers. Teach your kids to find those numbers and use them in emergency situations.
Inventory Home Possessions
Make a record of your personal property, for insurance purposes. Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your home. Include personal belongings in your inventory.
You may also want to download the free Household and Personal Property Inventory Book from the University of Illinois to help you record your possessions.
Store important documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, and other important papers in a safe place, such as a safety deposit box away from your home. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit.
Consider saving money in an emergency savings account that could be used in any crisis. It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly access them in case of evacuation.
It is important that family members know how to administer first aid and CPR and how to use a fire extinguisher.
Take a first aid and CPR class. Local American Red Cross chapters can provide information about this type of training. Official certification by the American Red Cross provides, under the “Good Samaritan” law, protection for those giving first aid.
Be sure everyone knows how to use your fire extinguisher(s) and where it is kept. You should have, at a minimum, an ABC type.
Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
You may need to survive on your own after a disaster. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items that members of a household may need in the event of a disaster. Since you do not know where you will be when an emergency occurs, prepare supplies for home, work, and vehicles. Your disaster supplies kit should contain essential food, water, and supplies for at least three days. Keep this kit in a designated place and have it ready in case you have to leave your home quickly. Make sure all family members know where the kit is kept.
Basic Disaster Supplies Kit
The following items are recommended for inclusion in your basic disaster supplies kit:
Three-day supply of non-perishable food.
Three-day supply of water – one gallon of water per person, per day.
Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
Flashlight and extra batteries.
First aid kit and manual.
Sanitation and hygiene items (moist towelettes and toilet paper).
Matches and waterproof container.
Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
Cash and coins.
Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
Other items to meet your unique family needs.
If you live in a cold climate, you must think about warmth. It is possible that you will not have heat. Think about your clothing and bedding supplies. Be sure to include one complete change of clothing and shoes per person, including:
Jacket or coat.
Long sleeve shirt.
Hat, mittens, and scarf.
Sleeping bag or warm blanket (per person).