What to Include in an Emergency Plan
By Allen Miller
It’s never comfortable to think about what your family should do or how you should prepare in the event of an emergency, natural disaster or crisis, but the safety and well being of your household could very well depend upon your forethought. Making a definitive plan for how everyone should proceed and what to expect in case an emergency arises could easily mean the difference between surviving it unscathed and suffering devastating loss. In addition to making sure that you have enough non-perishable food, water and first aid supplies to last your family for several days, you should also have a plan in place that includes certain information so that everyone is on the same page and no one is ever left behind.
Chosen Family Contact Information
Every member of your family should have the information of two dedicated contacts in the event of an emergency; one locally-based loved one or family friend, and one that does not live in the area. These contacts can serve as a liaison, making sure that everyone is accounted for should a disaster or emergency situation strike during the hours of the day when you’re separated. Making sure that you have a local contact who can provide assistance for emergency situations that do not affect your entire city can help you reunite your family, but it’s important to also have another that lives far from your area, who wouldn’t be likely to suffer the effects of a natural disaster or catastrophic weather event that affects your household. Everyone should know how and when to make contact with these individuals, even if it means providing younger children with a card to carry with them that contains the pertinent information.
If your home is rendered unsafe by an emergency situation or natural disaster, you should have an appointed “safe place” that everyone in your family can reach, even if you’re not all together when the emergency arises. Settling on your safe place as a family and discussing when everyone should make their way to that location ensures that everyone is equipped with the information they need to make a proactive effort to help themselves and reconnect with the rest of the family.
In case of fire or other emergencies that would require you to evacuate your home, you’ll need to determine the best and most effective routes for each member of your family to take. Make sure that younger children have someone that’s designated to help them, and that you practice fire and emergency drills periodically to ensure that everyone knows their role and how to escape safely.
Pet Care Plans
The four-legged members of your family will require attention and care in the event of an emergency, which is why you should make sure that there is a plan in place for their rescue and protection. Arranging a safe haven for your pets may be necessary, as not all Red Cross disaster shelters will allow you to bring yours with you. Your local animal shelter or veterinarian can provide you with information for preferred boarding facilities and kennels, as well as emergency shelters for pets.
Home Care Instructions
Adults and older children in your family should be apprised of basic home care information, including how to properly shut off water, natural gas and other utilities in the event of catastrophic weather. Before providing an older child with instruction in regard to such things, however, you need to ensure that she’s mature enough and capable enough to handle these tasks. Your child should know how to handle the utilities, but should also know that she’s only responsible for them if an adult asks her directly to take care of the situation because they’re not able to do so themselves.
By knowing the kinds of natural disasters, severe weather and other emergencies that your area is particularly prone to, you can tailor your emergency plan to fit the most likely situations. For instance, families in the Midwest probably shouldn’t concern themselves with hurricane disaster management, but should have a focused and comprehensive tornado plan in place. Make sure that you’re aware of the most likely emergency situations in your area and that your family is prepared accordingly.
When explaining emergency preparedness to children, it’s important to strike a balance between making the situation seem so dire that it causes them anxiety, and so unlikely that they don’t actually have to remember the specifics of an emergency plan. Explaining the importance of being ready for scary situations even though they probably won’t happen, can help little ones pay proper attention to the information you’re giving them without being afraid that a disaster is lurking around every corner.
Reference: Allen Miller of parttimenanny.org asked us to post this article and gave us permission to do so.