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When disaster strikes, is your family ready to take action and find safety? According to FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency in the U.S., “Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families, and individuals should know what to do in the event of a fire and where to seek shelter during a tornado. They should be ready to evacuate their homes and take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.” Being doesn’t just give you added peace of mind, it’s also a blessing to your community. The more families are prepared to care for themselves in emergency situations, the smaller the burden on organizations like FEMA and the Red Cross is, which leaves them more able to help those with the greatest need for aid, like the elderly and disabled. To get started, consider these basic steps toward disaster planning.

1. Hold a Family Meeting

Get the ball rolling by holding a family meeting to discuss your disaster planning. What hazards exist? What specific threats do families in your area need to be particularly considered with – floods, hurricanes, wildfires and blizzards are all very real threats, but some of them are pretty unheard of in certain areas, so focus first on those that are most likely to affect your own family. Also, discuss taking classes or reading up on ways to learn basic safety and first aid skills.

Use the family meeting to discuss any special needs that your family has. What unique needs do you have that might come up in an emergency situation. Do you have pets? Do any family members have disabilities?

2. Determine Evacuation and Shelter-Seeking Strategies

Discuss the type of alerts that happen to inform people of emergencies. Media coverage is common, as are different types of sirens. Learn to recognize these alerts and take action accordingly.

Determine escape routes in your own home, within your community, and even to leave town if necessary. Find out where the community shelter areas in your area are and plan out routes to get to them from common locations. Also, designate meeting points where your family will gather in the event that disaster strikes while you are separated.

FEMA recommends that families “Keep a full tank of gas in your car if an evacuation seems likely. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.”

In some evacuation situations, authorities will request that homeowners shut off utilities before evacuating. Be sure that all able family members know how to turn off the gas, water and electricity.

3. Put Together Emergency Kits

Having an emergency kit ready in a “go bag” is a good idea so that if you have to evacuate quickly, you don’t need to spend a lot of time gathering supplies. FEMA recommends the following basics in a three day emergency kit:

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food.
  • Three-day supply of water – one gallon of water per person, per day.
  • Portable, battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries.
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Sanitation and hygiene items.
  • Matches and waterproof container.
  • Whistle.
  • Extra clothing.
  • Kitchen accessories and cooking utensils, including a can opener.
  • Photocopies of credit and identification cards.
  • Cash and coins.
  • Special needs items, such as prescription medications, eye glasses, contact lens solutions, and hearing aid batteries.
  • Items for infants, such as formula, diapers, bottles, and pacifiers.
  • Other items to meet your unique family needs.

It’s also a good idea to have an auto emergency kit in the vehicle equipped with the above items as well as flares and a shovel.

Get started on your family emergency plan right away. Remember, it’s better to have an incomplete plan in place than no plan at all.

About the Author

Kylie Worthington is a green living writer who advocates disaster planning for all families. As a wife and mother, she strives to make sure her own family is disaster ready with an emergency kit for the home at all times. Kylie is passionate about natural health, fitness, and the outdoors.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who want to be prepared.

Image courtesy of Global X via Creative Commons license, some rights reserved.