Start with a Simple 3-Step Family Preparedness Plan
In addition to your family disaster supply kit, develop a family preparedness plan. This plan needs to be known to all family members. You can use the following as a template to help create your own. Remember: Plan, Prep and Practice.
1. Plan: Research and Do Your Homework
Find out what disasters could happen in your area. Contact your local emergency management or civil defense office and American Red Cross chapter to:
- Learn which disasters are possible where you live and how these disasters might affect your family.
- Request information on how to prepare and respond to each potential disaster.
- Learn about your community's warning signals, what they sound like, what they mean and what actions you should take when they are activated.
- Learn about local, state or federal assistance plans.
- Find out about the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children's school or day-care center, as well as other places where your family spends time.
- Develop a list of important telephone numbers (doctor, work, school, relatives) and keep it in a prominent place in your home.
- Ask about animal care. Pets may not be allowed inside shelters because of health regulations.
2. Prep: Gather Your Supplies and Create a Family Disaster Plan
Discuss with your family the need to prepare for disaster. Explain the danger of fire, severe weather (tornadoes, hurricanes) and floods to children. Prepare supplies and create a plan to share responsibilities and how to work together as a team.
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to occur and how to respond.
- Establish meeting places inside and outside your home, as well as outside the neighborhood. Make sure everyone knows when and how to contact each other if separated.
- Decide on the best escape routes from your home. Identify two ways out of each room.
- Plan how to take care of your pets.
- Establish a family contact out-of-town (friend or relative)to call after the disaster to let them know where you are and if you are okay. Make sure everyone knows the contact's phone number.
- Learn what to do if you are advised to evacuate.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
- Purchase a fire extinguisher for the home (ABC type).
- Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt.
- Stock emergency supplies and assemble a disaster supply kit.
- Learn basic first aid - (The Red Cross offers basic training of this nature):
- Each family member should know CPR
- Each family member should know how to help someone who is choking.
- Each family member should have the knowledge and skills to treat severe bleeding and shock.
- Identify safe places in your home to go for each type of disaster.
- Check to be sure you have adequate insurance coverage.
3. Practice: Learn and Maintain Your Plan
- Make checklists to help keep you organized and periodically update as you practice using them.
- Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local EMS number for help.
- Show each family member how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches.
- Teach each family member how to use a fire extinguisher (ABC type) and have a central place to keep it. Check it each year.
- Test children's knowledge of the plan every 6 months so they remember what to do.
- Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
- Replace stored water and food every 6 months.
- Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries once a year.
In conjunction with the preparedness plan, working with neighbors can save lives and property. Meet with neighbors to plan how the neighborhood could work together after a disaster until help arrives. Members of a neighborhood organization, such as a home association or crime watch group, can introduce disaster preparedness as a new activity.
It is also good advice to get to know your neighbors who have special skills (medical, technical) and consider how to help those neighbors who have special needs, such as disabled and elderly persons. You will also need to make plans for child care in case you as a parents cannot get home or get to the child's school.