Family Action Plan—Natural Disasters
In Emergencies, Plan Ahead to Be Prepared
Just as surely as accidents happen, so do natural disasters. And while it’s possible you and your family may never actually be faced with one, it’s advisable to have a family action plan in the event you do. Depending on where you live, you may need to respond quickly when a hurricane, earthquake, tsunami, tornado, fire, flood, blizzard or extreme weather event occurs. The first step is gathering everyone in your household to create a plan together.
Each family member needs to know exactly what to do since emergencies can strike with little or no warning. You should also discuss contingencies—what you would do if family members are not at home when a warning is issued.
While every emergency is different, here’s what to incorporate in any plan you make:
✔ Escape routes from your house. You need to determine two ways to get out of the house in an emergency, particularly from kids’ bedrooms. Make drawings that kids can understand and post them at eye level in their rooms. Make sure they understand what to do.
✔ Plan an evacuation route. Keep one family vehicle fully fueled to account for distance travel and outages at gas stations. Use one vehicle to minimize delays and congestion on roads. Have a supply of non-perishable food and water ready. Follow any instructions given by local authorities. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped. Take recommended routes—shortcuts may be blocked. Be alert for road hazards like flooding or downed power lines.
✔ Create contact cards. Make cards for each family member with names, phone and mobile numbers, out-of-area relatives’ or friends’ contact information and designated meeting places. Make sure every family member keeps a card in a wallet, purse or backpack that they will have with them.
✔ Know how to shut off your utilities. In some circumstances, you may need to shut off your gas, water and electricity before evacuating.
✔ Keep copies of important documents in a waterproof, fire-resistant box. This includes insurance policies, an inventory of valuable possessions (including photographs) and other crucial paperwork. Store the originals in a safety deposit box away from your home.
✔ Prepare for those with special needs. This is important not only for elderly or disabled family members but anyone who requires medication or medical assistance. Build a support network with neighbors, friends and coworkers who could help you if necessary.
✔ Take care of your pets. Find out in advance what area shelters, hotels and other lodging sites allow for animals. Prepare a pet survival kit with food, medication, toys, leashes and any other pet necessities.
✔ Learn First Aid, CPR and fire extinguisher use. The life of a family member may depend on it.
✔ Use resources on the web. There are many local, state and national emergency preparedness websites that can provide detailed plans and information. Search online for “family emergency planning” and go to sites like fema.gov, or your state’s emergency information site. Florida’s site, Floridadisaster.org, gives useful guidance on family action plans and other emergency considerations.
*Content expressed in Home Security Source does not represent the thoughts and opinions of ADT Security Services, Inc. unless explicitly indicated.