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Making any sort of family plan is important when living in a home with other people. Many families have a fire safety plan that includes how everyone will exit the house and where to meet if there ever is a fire. However, it is also essential to create a family emergency plan if there is a natural disaster or some other kind of crisis that would cause chaos.
Creating a family emergency plan is a vital part of ensuring that everyone in your family, both within your home and extended family, knows what to do in case communication lines are lost. In a world that relies heavily on phone and digital communication, there is no guarantee that those connections will be available in the event of a crisis. Learn more about how you can create a family emergency plan to keep you and your loved ones safe.
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Gather the Family
The first step to creating a family emergency plan is to talk it over and brainstorm with those you want to be connected with during a crisis. While the subject can be scary for children, it is important to include them in some, if not all, of the discussion. Kids will often bring up good points and have ideas of their own. They also have information about what their day typically looks like at school and offer insights that you may overlook.
Gathering the family also includes grandparents and extended family that you want to make sure are okay in an emergency. If your family is large, consider making your own family unit emergency plan as well as an extended family plan if needed.
Know Your Emergency Alert Systems
While many of us have emergency alert services on our cell phones, they aren’t the best form of communication for everyone. Older generations, like grandparents, may not even have a cell phone.
Weather alert radios are a great option as they use radio signals and can be used with batteries instead of a grid power source. The Emergency Alert System is another form of communication broadcasted on television channels. Wireless Emergency Alerts are also used to send communication via wireless devices.
Prepare for Common Disasters in Your Area
No matter where you live, every area has its own set of natural disasters common to its location. Creating a family emergency plan should include those disasters that are prone to your specific community.
Families living along the coast would prepare for such things as hurricanes, tsunamis, and floods, while families in a landlocked location wouldn’t typically need to do so. Understanding your area and the natural disasters that can occur is the first step to deciding what your family emergency plan will look like.
This step also includes planning for the type of community that you live in. Your plan will look different if you live in a high-rise apartment in a big city or live in a rural area where the nearest person lives miles away.
Determine a Shelter Location
Many of us may use our own homes as shelter in an emergency. After the COVID-19 pandemic, we all have a taste of what sheltering-at-home requires. However, it is essential to plan on different shelter locations depending on the scenario.
Related: The Ultimate Guide to Bugging In
Indoor Home Shelter
Whether you live in a city or the country, every home should have a stockpile of supplies that will help the family get through an emergency situation. Sheltering at home is often the first choice in an emergency due to its comfort and familiarity.
If your home is not a good option for shelter, your family could meet somewhere outside your home. Much like a fire safety plan, this would include a large landmark nearby your home that is easy for everyone to identify and find even in the dark, like a large tree or mailbox.
Knowing what options you have locally for shelter is another way to stay prepared. Meeting with your family at the local fire station, police station, or library are good options. Other community buildings like schools could become temporary shelters as well.
Out of Town Shelter
There are a few disaster scenarios that would require you to leave your home location. This could happen if an area is evacuated and your family is not already all together. Choose a familiar location out of town that everyone could get to. This could be a family or friend’s house in a different area, a family vacation spot in the woods, or another location a few hours away.
Once you’ve decided where the shelter will be, it is vital to then talk about how everyone will get to that shelter in an emergency. Traffic and congestion could all be factors that play into arriving safely to shelter. Give each adult in the family a specific job to help more vulnerable family members reach shelter.
When picking up kids from school, consider giving the adult who lives closest to the school the task of picking up and bringing home children in an emergency. Other family members who may need extra help include the elderly or those with limited mobility who may need assistance.
Check Emergency Supplies
It is vital that your home has a stockpile of emergency supplies no matter what happens. This could include candles, water, food, and first aid items. If you live in a remote area, your stockpile should be larger than those who live nearby stores.
While your home should have plenty of supplies, so should your modes of transportation. Pack and load an emergency supply bag into your car just in case. Make sure that everything within it won’t melt due to hot temperatures, though.
Other options include putting an emergency bag near a door or somewhere easy to access so that you can grab it and go. Instead of a duffle bag, consider packing emergency supplies in a backpack so that it is easy to carry.
Print Out Your Plan
Many of us rely too much on cell phones to connect us with others. It is important to print out the names and phone numbers of people in your family just in case. Consider creating a little card that can be easily stored in a wallet, backpack, or car that has everyone’s phone numbers, address, and your plan clearly stated.
Include emergency contact numbers as well, like the number to your local authorities and even neighbors who could help. Print out multiple maps and evacuation routes as well. Laminating the card is also a good idea to make it waterproof.
Practice With the Family
Just like you may have done fire drills in your home, consider doing an emergency plan with your family as well. Even if you don’t physically run through the plan, it is important to talk about it with all family members and discuss how to react.
Talk about different scenarios and what the family would do if your home wasn’t a good option for shelter or how to get grandma to safety. These discussions often come back to everyone in an emergency, so don’t underestimate the power of talking about what your family will do in a crisis.
Creating a family emergency plan is an important part of preparing for different situations. Make sure that your family knows how to react if an emergency comes while everyone is at work, school, or away from home. Prepare your family emergency plan now, and talk about it with everyone involved, so that your family knows what to do in the event of an emergency.
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