Emergency Preparedness for Families

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Using the following tips before and after emergencies can put you in the best possible position for survival.>

Make a Family Plan
All families should have two plans in place in case of emergencies.

Plan of Escape:
When emergencies happen, panic can have deadly repercussions. Make sure that your family has a plan of escape in case evacuating the home becomes necessary. The plan should include which exit routes each family member should take as well as a safe meeting place for everyone to gather once the evacuation is complete.

Plan of Communication:
As weve all witnessed by television during major natural disasters, family members can easily get separated. Choose an out-of-state relative that all family members can easily name and locate. If you are separated for any reason, all family members should be instructed to contact this relative first before searching out other family members.

Build a Supply Kit
Depending on the type of emergency in which you are involved, help may be quick to come or can take days longer to arrive. The larger scale the emergency and the more people involved, the longer you will have to survive on your own.

Items that you want to be sure to include in your emergency kit are:

Bottled water: At least 1 gallon of water per person per day, with a 3 day supply recommended. Clean water can be one of the most difficult items to locate during a large scale emergency. Water supplies are easily contaminated and often are unusable during a major disaster. FEMA recommends storing bottled water since preparation and water safety will not be an issue.

Non-perishable foods: In a major emergency, you will need at least 3 days worth of non-perishable foods. Foods that do not require preparation or cooking are your best choices. Some prefer to purchase MREs or Meals Ready to Eat because they are nutritionally complete and can be stored for up to 5 years. Dont forget to include baby food and formula if you have a family member that might need these things. And, dont forget your pets! If needed, have a supply of pet food as well.

Side note: Think youve got enough in your pantry to cover you for 3 days at a moments notice? Dont count on it. Often times, unsafe conditions surrounding your home or your food supply will make the extra food you have on hand a dangerous choice.

Light: Having plenty of candles as well as water-proof matches and flashlights with extra batteries can be the best thing you include in your kit. Electricity is often the first thing to shut down during a major emergency and one of the last things to be rectified as efforts are focused on meeting immediate needs like food and water. A pack of lighters is also a wise choice and can give you additional options.

First Aid Kit: Minor injuries can become major problems if they occur while facing an emergency. Make sure you have an extensive first aid kit that includes basic items such as bandages, ointments and scissors as well as commonly used over-the-counter analgesics and any prescription medications that your family needs to survive.

Extra Essentials: Items that easily slip your mind when planning ahead can become major inconveniences during an emergency. Make sure you have an ample supply of extra batteries, a manual can opener, a shovel, an ace, rope, duct tape, pen and paper and extra cash.

Personal Items: Items like a change of clothing for each family member, rain ponchos, toilet paper, shampoo, hand sanitizer and feminine hygiene products are essential for most emergencies. Having blankets and sheets as well as tarps can also be comforting should you have to sleep in an unfamiliar area.

Secure Your Home

Unfortunately, when a disaster occurs and emergency workers are focused on helping those in immediate need, criminals often take advantage. You may need to assess the damage quickly and do whatever you can to secure your items in case you are asked to evacuate the area.

After a disaster, make sure to check outside of your home for loose or fallen power lines so that you can report them to local utility companies as soon as possible. Inside, search for electrical system damage and beware of sparks, frayed wires or a burning smell. If you find these conditions and can safely turn off the main electrical switch, do so. If you discover a hissing or blowing sound near a gas valve, or if you smell gas, open a window and immediately leave the building. Bring in any loose outdoor items such as grills, propane tanks and furniture. Reinforce your roof, windows and doors if necessary.

Being prepared and knowing what to do to reach all family members and secure your home can offer much needed comfort during overwhelming times. Thinking ahead and having these items set aside is a wise choice for any family. But, even if you cant set aside all of these items, make sure you secure the essentials and have a list in place for last minute items to add to your stash should you need to evacuate your home. There is nothing better you can do to ease your survival and your familys security than being prepared.