Every region of the country is subject to some sort of disaster – whether it’s hurricanes, tornados, earthquakes, snow storms, etc. Businesses protect their buildings and equipment with detailed emergency plans. They also develop communications plans for customers, employees, and suppliers. Families should do the same.
The way to do that is to put together a written emergency plan for the home. Families can use the plan as a way to prepare for an emergency and take care of themselves, homes, and belongings. It’s hard to think of everything that needs to be included in the plan, but here are some topics to consider:
- Use an employer plan as a guide. Chances are your company has some sort of emergency program or inclement weather plan. If you have access to the plan, look at it for ideas to consider. Some organizations distribute emergency plan templates directly to their employees. Also, when emergencies are imminent, listen for announcements from the company. They might do something you want to consider for your home plan, such as communicating updates via social media.
- Plan for medicine and medical conditions. This ties into the utility preparations. Family members who take medicine or have medical conditions will need to have the medical supplies they reply upon for an extended period, just in case prescriptions cannot be filled right away.
- Understand how technology can help. Speaking of technology, when an emergency watch or warning has been issued, make sure that computer files are backed up so nothing is lost. (FYI – this is just a good everyday practice to follow.) Also, look for mobile device apps, such as the Red Cross, weather, and news to stay current with any announcements regarding the emergency.
- Check schools and government entities for other resources. Many educational institutions have emergency plans that they distribute directly to students. State and government websites offer assistance to residents. For instance, here’s one from New York City Emergency Management, which includes a kid’s guide. This site – disasterassistance.gov – is a Federal program which provides information and support services. Consider bookmarking them on your phone or tablet for easy access.
- Think about how utilities will be impacted. One of the first things that could happen during storms or disasters is loss of running water or electricity. Families need to think about how they would manage without electricity or water for several days. Having non-perishable food products and battery operated appliances might be an option.
- Confirm evacuation plans. Families should know if they live in a flooding zone or an evacuation area. They should know in advance how they would evacuate, should the situation arise. Also, families need to consider if there are extended family members – maybe that don’t reside under the same roof – that need additional assistance. If you have questions, check out the FEMA website.
- Don’t forget your vehicles. Families should make sure vehicles are full of gas, in case they need to evacuate. In addition, the American Red Cross and Ready.gov offer suggestions for creating a vehicle response kit. The best time to get a kit ready is before an emergency is in sight. And it might sound completely unromantic and unsentimental, but giving a spouse or parent an emergency response kit could be a practical gift that shows someone how much you care.
- Create a communications plan between family members. It can be very frustrating and upsetting not to know if family members are safe during an emergency. A new feature in Facebook allows users to update their status during emergencies. Teach everyone how to use it.
Hopefully, families will never have to use any of these suggestions. However, there might be times when an emergency is imminent and preparations are made, but the disaster never comes. Use these moments as a way to review your family emergency plan for accuracy. Have a short family meeting to discuss what went well and what changes should be made for the future. Always keep the plan up to date.
All family members should know where to find the plan so anyone can start preparations during an emergency. Getting the entire family involved will help make preparations manageable. Keeping an updated family emergency plan will give everyone the peace of mind that they are prepared should something occur.