Our lives can be forever altered in a second. To ensure the safety of your family and prevent panic, adopting a family emergency plan will help you prepare for environmental issues that may arise.
Research Your Area
There are different weather anomalies depending on the region of the United States that you live in. Different sides of the country each have natural disasters unique to their region.
For instance, in California earthquakes are more common and carry very deadly results. In Michigan, tornadoes are a threat as well as heavy snow and ice at times. Florida grapples with hurricanes and tropical storms often during the year, as do other coastal states.
How To Prepare
Prepare for the emergencies that are common for your work and living areas. Red Cross offers advice and assistance with designing a proper emergency plan, but we've got a few tips to get you started.
All family members need to understand and abide by the guidelines of your family's emergency plan. Children who are too young will need to be assigned an appropriately aged sibiling or an adult to assist them with evacuation if necessary. Keep the guide in a place that all members of the family will have access to it. Meet-up points can be added to the notes of your cell phone.
Plan For Your Schedule
Depending on the day of the week, your schedule will be different. Children may have school or be at daycare. Who is responsible for picking them up in an emergency? Should there be contacts who may need to pick up your child from daycare or school who are not parents or immediate family members, need to be added to the school's list of persons who may take the child off the property.
All possible contacts necessary for an emergency should also be in a place in your home where all of family members can see it.
Again, add these numbers to your phone with "ICE" next to them (In Case of Emergency.) This also helps first responders know who to call should you be involved in an accident. You can also program your lock screen to automatically display your emergency contact information.
Your contact list should include:
Family Contacts (parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, grandparents, children)
Neighbors or friends
Place of Employment
Daycare or School
Emergency kits should be available in the home, car and in any outside structures you have on the property. Be sure to check the expiration dates on medications in your kit. Replace anything that has expired or is no longer usable.
While we do have the option of using a cell phone to contact a tow company, having some extra supplies might get you out of a jam in case you have no reception. Kitty litter can help you out of the snow. Warming blankets are vital should you be stuck in your car overnight during cold months. Water should be available, as well as nuts or granola bars to help stave off hunger while waiting for help.
Jumper cables or extra batteries (designed to jump your vehicle by itself), can get you back up and moving. Not all cars come with flares. This is something you should add to your emergency kit to alert other drivers to your whereabouts.
Keep emergency water, food and other medical supplies handy in case of a disaster. You can keep this kit in your pantry or hall closet. Use a tote to protect the items and label it clearly.
Your kit can include:
Non-perishable food (formula for babies)
Bottled water (plan for 1 gallon per person/per day)
List of medications your family takes/prescribing physician
Mask and medical gloves
Extra set of car keys
Battery powered or hand-crank radio
Personal care items (toothbrushes/toothpaste, etc.)
Books or small games for children
Copies of important documents (insurance, etc.)
Cash or travelers checks (in case of power outage)
Developing the Plan
Plan escape routes out of your home in cases of burglary or fire. Practice your escapes and time yourself to get an idea of how long it should take.
Designate a Meeting Area
In case of seperation, agree on one meeting place accessible to all family members. This could be a coffee shop or the big oak tree near your home.
In any case, preparation is always welcome. Using a plan to help you during an emergency will greatly reduce your stress and allow you to focus on the safety of your family.