LeafSpring School at Sonterra

July 19, 2021

Tips for Establishing Your Family’s Home Emergency Plan

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by: Clara Beaufort

The coronavirus crisis is a great reminder that every family needs a home emergency plan. You never know when disaster could strike, whether it be a hurricane, earthquake, wildfire, or global pandemic. During major disasters, it can take emergency crews a long time to reach you, so it’s crucial that your family has everything you need to survive in your home for at least 72 hours. This is also a good time to go over your household and community escape plan in case of an emergency evacuation order. Here are a few tips to consider as you prepare for the unexpected.

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Make an Emergency Supply Kit

During a disaster, an emergency supply kit will help you meet the immediate needs of your family until relief arrives. Pack your supply kit with essentials, including water, food, and first-aid necessities. Remember to include personal hygiene items and sanitization supplies like trash bags, dish soap, and hand sanitizer. Reliable flashlights are also important to keep in your supply kit. Consider picking up a few high-quality flashlights that are either long-lasting or rechargeable, so every member of your family will have access to reliable light.

After creating your home emergency kit, put together a couple of smaller kits as well. Inc.com recommends stocking up a grab-and-go bag with everything you will need if you have to evacuate your neighborhood quickly, including a first aid kit, portable water filter, solar-powered radio, cell phone charger, cash, and personal identification. What’s more, it’s also a good idea to keep an emergency kit in your car in case you get stranded on the side of the road, especially during hazardous winter weather.

Customize Your Safety Plan

It’s important to customize your home supply kit and safety plan based on the unique needs of your household. Make sure to account for the medical and dietary needs of your family members when stocking your supply kit with food and first-aid items. If you have pets, remember to include pet food and essential care supplies. If you live with a senior or a disabled family member, think about any additional accommodations you may need to make during emergencies to keep them safe. Some items you may need to keep in your emergency kit for a senior loved one include an up-to-date medication list, medical equipment, an extra pair of eyeglasses, and extra copies of their Medicare or Medicaid information.

Map Out Your Escape Route

There may come a time when your family has to get out of the house within seconds. Make sure everyone in your household knows the fastest way to get outside from any room. Establish four meeting locations — one inside your home, one directly outside, one somewhere in your neighborhood, and one out of town — so your family members know exactly where to go during different disasters.

It’s a good idea to draw up a map of your evacuation routes and meeting places, especially if you have young children. Remember to practice your household evacuation regularly to ensure everyone is on the same page. Emergencies can feel especially scary at night, so it’s a good idea to run through your emergency evacuation plan at different hours of the day.

Create a Family Communication Plan

Staying connected is vital to family safety during times of crisis. Go over your family communication plan so that everyone knows the best way to stay in contact. Habitat for Humanity recommends keeping a list of emergency contacts both on your cell phone and in your home; you won’t always be able to use the internet to look up important numbers in a crisis. It’s also wise to establish an emergency contact who lives out of town so everyone in your family has someone to communicate with if you can’t get in touch with each other.

Have a Plan for Repairs

If you live in an area that’s prone to severe weather, you shouldn’t wait until after a major storm to scope out help you may need. For example, it’s not a bad idea to find a tree removal service in case a big storm hits. Review customer feedback before hiring anyone and get cost estimates from at least three companies. Keep in mind that it could easily cost over $1,600 to have a large tree removed.

A home emergency plan will help keep your family members safe when a disaster strikes. Take the time to put together a fully stocked survival kit, map out your evacuation plan, and have your family practice what to do during different emergency situations. It’s important that your family knows exactly how to respond in any situation to minimize panic and ensure everyone stays safe in an emergency.