Emergency situations can occur quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity or telephones were cut off?
Families can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Listed below are great beginning steps to create your family’s emergency plan.
Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble an Emergency Supplies Kit with items you may need in an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks, duffle bags or covered trash containers. Include:
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil.
- One change of clothing and footwear per person, and one blanket or sleeping bag per person.
- A first aid kit that includes your family's prescription medications.
- Emergency tools including a battery-powered radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries.
- Sanitation supplies.
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.
- An extra pair of glasses.
Determine a regular schedule to rotate the items in your Emergency Kit and be aware of expiration dates.
Keep important family documents in a waterproof container. Keep a smaller kit in the trunk of your car including a blanket for the winter season.
Locate the main electric fuse box, water service main and natural gas main. Learn how and when to turn these utilities off. Teach all responsible family members. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
Remember, turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged or if you are instructed to do so. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
Create an Emergency Plan
Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for emergencies. Explain the dangers of fire and severe weather to children.
Pick two places to meet:
- Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
- Outside your neighborhood in case you can't return home.
Complete This Checklist:
- Ask an out-of-state friend or relative to be your family contact.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phone (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
- Teach children how and when to call 911
- Show responsible family members how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
- Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
- Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it's kept.
- Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt.
- Stock emergency supplies and assemble an Emergency Supplies Kit.
- Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
- Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
Practice and Maintain your Plan
- Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
- Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
- Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
- Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.