About Natural Disasters
Every family should have a disaster plan and discuss it often so that all members will know what to do in an emergency.
Every family should have a Family Disaster Plan and discuss it often so that all members will know what to do in an emergency.
After identifying the types of disasters that your community is at risk for, family members should meet to discuss how to prepare for and handle such an event. By working together and sharing responsibilities, all family members, including children, feel that they are contributing to the family's safety and health. Not only do Family Disaster Plans help to lessen the effects of the disaster, but simply talking about the disasters helps to relieve some of the fear and anxiety associated with them.
Every Family Disaster Plan should include the following:
Meeting Places. Every family should decide on two places they will meet in case of a disaster. One should be right outside of the home. The other should be outside of the neighborhood in case the disaster is such that it is not safe or possible to return home. It is important for everyone, including children, to know the address and the phone number for the meeting places.
Emergency Communication Plan. In some cases, it may not be possible for family members to reunite at the meeting places. However, it is important for family members to know where the other members are. Therefore, each family should have a "family contact" outside of their area or even their state. If family members are separated during a disaster event, they can call to let the "family contact" know where they are. Making a long-distance phone call is often easier than a local call after a disaster. Every family member should know the name, address and telephone number of the "family contact."
Evacuation Plan. It is important to discuss evacuation before it needs to occur. Families should make arrangements to stay with family members or friends who live outside of the area or learn about the emergency shelter locations in their community. Everyone should be familiar with evacuation routes in the community. Several alternatives should be planned because it is possible that during a disaster one or more routes could be blocked. It is also wise to plan ways to evacuate from your home in case of fire or other emergency.
- Assembling a Disaster Supplies Kit
- Taking a Red Cross first aid and CPR class
- Teaching every responsible adult how and when to turn off the water, electricity and gas at the main valves.
- Writing down the names and telephone numbers of important resources in case of an emergency and posting the most important emergency telephone numbers near the telephone.
You have to decide what is best for your pet before a disaster. It is best to take your pet with you during a disaster; however, most shelters do not allow animals. Find out if local hotels allow pets in an emergency. If not, make arrangements with relatives, friends or boarding facilities to house your pets during a disaster.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
It is important to practice the components of your Family Disaster Plan so that all family members remember their responsibilities when a disaster occurs. Children, especially, should be quizzed every six months on what to do. Also, practicing can decrease the anxiety associated with the disaster and increase the likelihood that the proper steps will be followed during and after an emergency.
Every family should create a Disaster Supplies Kit that contains items that will be needed during and after a disaster event. This is an opportunity for all family members to participate in disaster preparation.
In an easy-to-carry container such as a duffel bag or large, covered garbage container, pack the following:
- A battery-powered radio or television and extra batteries
- A flashlight with extra batteries
- A first aid kit and first aid manual
- Three gallons of water per person. (This is a three-day supply. Store water in plastic containers.)
- At least a three-day supply of nonperishable food such as granola bars, crackers, peanut butter, trail mix and snack-sized canned goods. (A two-week supply is recommended.) Select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation, and little or no water. Avoid foods that are high in salt or fat.
- Kitchen utensils, including a can opener
- A complete change of clothing for each member of the family, including sturdy shoes
- Blankets or sleeping bags for each member of the family
- Sanitation and hygiene products such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, toilet paper, towelettes, etc.
- A supply of any prescription medicine
- An extra pair of eyeglasses for any family member who wears them
- Credit card and cash
- Personal identification
- An extra set of car keys
- Additional items necessary for the elderly or infants
- Copies of important documents such as birth certificates, passports and bank account numbers in a waterproof, fire-resistant, portable container
- Important telephone numbers
Families should keep a smaller version of this kit in each car. It is important to maintain Disaster Supplies Kits by replacing the food and water every six months and the other items, such as batteries and clothing, as necessary.