Being prepared in an emergency is essential to survival and can mean the difference between life and death. Every family will benefit from having a solid disaster preparedness plan in place that will help you to make the right decisions in an emergency.
Prepare in Advance
There are as many disaster preparedness plans as there are families. The specifics of your plan will be unique to your family, but the key is to have a plan prepared in advance and practice it before you need it. Each member of the family should know where to locate the disaster supplies and where to meet should the family get separated.
Map out escape routes from your home and ensure that everyone knows them. This is especially important if you have small children in your family who may not be able to find their own means of escape in an emergency. Discuss the do’s and don’ts of emergency survival. Some children may hide from firefighters and rescue personnel in an emergency. For small children, it helps to show them pictures of firefighters in uniform and explain how to get help from first responders if necessary.
As a first step, delegate tasks to family members to carry out in case of emergency or an unexpected evacuation. Designate one person to carry the food supplies, another to gather up pets and yet another to prepare the car to evacuate. By delegating these tasks before an actual emergency, you can save time and ensure that no detail is missed.
It also helps to designate locations that will make adequate evacuation sites. If you are planning on evacuating to a public place or relative’s home, map out the route and any alternate routes in advance.
Create a Disaster Supply Kit
There are several things to keep in mind when it comes to stocking emergency essentials. Most people consider earthquakes and hurricanes disasters, but few realize that blizzards, blackouts and floods can also leave you stranded without necessary supplies and emergency assistance.
There are several must-have items for every disaster supply kit. They include:
Figure in one gallon of water per person per day and stock three days of water for each person, more for sick, elderly or nursing family members. In summer temperatures or hot climates, stock two gallons each.
Purchase water storage containers and water purification tablets from a disaster supply retailer. This will allow you to store water safely for drinking and sanitation, and purify any water you find from natural sources such as lakes and wells.
Purchase a three-day supply of food for each person in the family. You can find meals ready to eat (MRE) and other non-perishable food items at disaster supply stores. A supply of nuts, jerky, crackers and other shelf-stable foods is a good addition to your food supply.
These are essential for powering flashlights, radios and other small devices.
Other essential elements for your survival kit include:
- Solar powered radio
- First Aid Kit
- Whistle (to signal to first responders)
- Paper towels, moist towelettes, and toothbrushes
- Hand-held can openers
- Baby supplies
- Dust masks
- Cell phone and charger
This list includes only a few of the necessary items for your disaster supplies kit. Based on your geographic location, you may choose other supplies. For instance, some people stock guns and ammo, while others stock a supply of dry clothing and sunscreen. After the basics of food and water are covered, you can customize your kit to your needs. The key to make sure you have everything you need for survival until help arrives.
Developing a disaster preparedness plan is the first step in ensuring your safety in an emergency. Share this plan with your entire family and practice it to make sure everyone gets out alive. Designate tasks for each family member in case of an emergency evacuation to make sure all bases are covered.