Does your family have a plan in case of a natural disaster or other emergency? According to the Ad Council, 60 percent of Americans don’t have an emergency plan for their family. I’m embarrassed to say that I used to be one of them.
My “Momma Bear” instinct causes me, like many of you, to go to great lengths to protect my loved ones. I’ve childproofed our home and installed safety gadgets like baby gates, outlet covers, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. I wear my seatbelt in the car and always make sure my passengers buckle up. I thought my family was prepared and well-protected. Then as part of National Preparedness Month, I read the 60 percent statistic and realized we didn’t have an emergency plan.
What would we do if a severe storm caused us to lose electricity for several days? What would we eat? Would we have enough to drink? What else did my family need to be prepared? Every family has its own needs. Some of us have children, pets or are caring for someone with special medical needs. My plan two years ago would be quite different than my plan today.
Part of being prepared is making these plans ahead of time. Life is bound to throw us a few unfortunate curve-balls. No one likes to think about them, but it’s our responsibility to do so, not just for ourselves, but for those who depend on us. It’s far easier to keep your cool if you have plans and an emergency kit on hand than to try to come up with them on the fly.
In this particular instance, I knew the basics of what to do. But I had never actually sat down and organized “the plan” for my family. September is National Preparedness Month. I used this time as my reminder to re-evaluate my plan, update critical information and make sure my loved ones do the same.
Don’t have a plan? Now is the perfect time to get organized.
- Do you have a place to meet if you and your family members get separated?
- Do you have an emergency kit?
- Does everyone in your family know who they’d contact and where to go in an emergency? What if you aren’t at home?
The resources from the Federal Emergency Management Agency at ready.gov will help you make your emergency plans. There are materials for the whole family.
Here are the items I found most helpful:
- Prepare, plan and stay informed. Visit ready.gov
- Complete and keep a hard-copy of your communication plan on file.
- Remember to keep a paper copy of your emergency contact list. If your phone battery or laptop loses their charge, you won’t be able to get to your saved contacts.
- Use this checklist to build your emergency kit.
- Once you have a kit, learn how to maintain it.
- Let’s not forget about the kids. It’s just as important for them to know what to do so that they can stay calm in an emergency situation: ready.gov/kids
Here are resources you can print and save:
- Family Communication Plan for Parents and Kids (PDF)
- Preparing Makes Sense. Get Ready Now (PDF)
- Commuter Emergency Plan (PDF)
- Prepare for Emergencies Now: Information for Pet Owners (PDF)
- Basic Emergency Supply List PDF
This blog post is my reminder to you. If you don’t have a plan, create one. If you already have one, make sure it still suits your family and meets your particular needs. And always remember, it’s important to stay safe.