4 Steps to Family Emergency Preparedness
While we don’t necessarily like to think about it, there is always some possibility of a natural disaster affecting us here in the Pacific Northwest. And it’s important to have a plan in place that makes you, and your family, feel prepared for such an event.
Here are 4 steps you can take with your family, to help you feel prepared, and stay safe in the event of an emergency.
1. Make a plan
Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, how will you get emergency alerts and warnings? How will you let each other know you’re safe, if phones and Internet are down? Where will you meet if you’re at work or school, versus in your own neighborhood? Considering all the possibilities and creating a plan is key, but you don’t have to do it alone. There are lots of great resources to help you out. Start with a plan outline or premade plan from ready.gov/make-a-plan, and modify it if necessary, to fit the specific needs of your family. Once you’ve got your plan set, walk through it together, so everyone understands what to do.
2. Set meeting places
To cover all types of emergency events, everyone needs to know at least three places to meet. First, it’s a good idea to have a gathering place in your home. Second, choose a safe location in your neighborhood. Finally, select an out-of-neighborhood meeting spot for anyone at school or commuting during the emergency. Places like a friend’s home, a church, a community center or a library are good options. Talk with those friends or building administrators, and let them know about your plan. The more community members can collaborate on disaster preparedness, the stronger emergency plans become.
3. Establish communication procedures
Compile a list of phone numbers, addresses and emails—including schools, workplaces, hospitals and family doctors. Print copies to share with your family and friends, and include copies in your emergency kits. Then decide on what messages your family will send each other, and how. In an emergency, text messages are usually the best option, and a short text like “I’m OK at library” is most likely to go through.
4. Create emergency kits
When building an emergency kit, plan for a three-day power outage. It should contain one gallon of water per person per day, canned or nonperishable food, a manual can opener, flashlight(s), small radio, extra batteries and a standard first-aid kit. Consider your family’s specific needs, like any prescription or emergency medications, diapers, or pet supplies. Also consider adding tarps for shelter, rain gear and blankets. An online search for “family emergency kit” can give you plenty of ideas for making your own kit, as well as options to purchase premade kits. This website, the Cross website and ready.gov/kit, are also great online resources to kick-start thinking about the contents of your kit.
It’s not possible to plan for every emergency situation, but taking preventative measures like gathering food, tools and information, and going over plans and scenarios with your family will go a long way in providing peace of mind, knowing that you’re prepared.