September is National Preparedness Month. Plan now in case a disaster strikes!
Disasters can happen quickly and unexpectedly. The most important step to staying safe is being prepared BEFORE an emergency occurs. It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared and informed in the event of a disaster or emergency. You may not always be together when these events take place and should have plans for making sure you are able to contact and find one another. Ready.gov is a great resource for planning ideas and tips to help you prepare. We’ve compiled some of their tips pertaining to family emergency planning.
Here are a few easy steps to start your emergency communication plan:
- Understand how to receive emergency alerts and warnings. Make sure all household members are able to get alerts about an emergency from local officials. Check with your local emergency management agency to see what is available in your area, and learn more about alerts by visiting: www.ready.gov/alerts.
- Discuss family/household plans for disasters that may affect your area and plan where to go. Plan together in advance so that everyone in the household understands where to go during different types of disasters like tornados, wildfires, or active shooter/terrorist situations.
- Collect information. Create a paper copy of the contact information for your family that includes:
- phone (work, cell, office)
- social media
- medical facilities, doctors, service providers
- Identify information and pick an emergency meeting place. Things to consider:
- Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite.
- Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs.
- If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.
Examples of meeting places:
- In your neighborhood: A mailbox at the end of the driveway, or a neighbor’s house.
- Outside of your neighborhood: library, community center, place of worship, or family friend’s home.
- Outside of your town or city: home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address of the meeting place and discuss ways you would get there.
- Share information. Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, or wallet. You should also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as your refrigerator or family bulletin board.
- Practice your plan. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communication plans and meeting place after a disaster, and then practice, just like you would a fire drill.
We hope you find this information useful and use it to make sure you and your family are prepared for a disaster in advance. Ready.gov also provides a couple of great family communication plan templates designed for parents and kids to organize emergency contact phone numbers and identify an emergency meeting place. You can find the parent communication template HERE and the kid’s template HERE. So get planning, get prepared and stay safe!