No one likes to think about the possibility of a disaster striking their home or community, but the reality is that it could happen.  Families can minimize the fear and uncertainty and increase the chances that each family member remains safe by developing a family emergency response plan.

There are three important questions to consider when thinking about your family’s emergency response plan:

  • How would your family contact one another if a disaster were to strike?
  • How would each family member get to a safe place?
  • How would different emergency situations change the plan?

Communication During a Disaster

Family members aren’t always together when an emergency arises, so it is important to consider how family members will get in touch with one another.  In this day and age, we rely so heavily on technology, but it isn’t uncommon for local phone lines to be damaged.  Therefore, a more in-depth plan should be developed.

Identify an out of town contact.  It is important to identify a trusted and easily reached family or friend who lives out of town, who can be the central point of contact in the event of an emergency.  A person who lives out of town is less likely to also be affected by the emergency.  Additionally, local phone lines often get jammed, making long distance communication easier.

Teach texting.  While text messaging is commonplace for many of us, it may not be second nature for everyone in your family.  When phone lines are jammed, it is more likely that text messages will go through, so be sure everyone knows how to send and receive text messages.

Create a contact card.  While having important phone numbers stored in our cell phones is an important step, it is also important to have these numbers handwritten and stored in a central place in the home as well as in wallets, purses, or backpacks.  The FEMA website offers a convenient template to help you gather all of the important information.

Safety and Evacuation Plans

Disasters can happen on different scales.  For example, the evacuation plan for a house fire is different from that of a tsunami warning.  Therefore, when developing a family emergency response plan, it is important to consider the different potential circumstances.  On their website, the American Red Cross discusses different types of emergencies in more detail.

Establish meeting places.  Talk with your family and agree upon meeting places outside your home (such as the mailbox or neighbor’s house), outside your neighborhood (such as a school or place of worship), and outside of town (such as a family member’s house or a school commonly used as an American Red Cross shelter).  Then, discuss how to decide which meeting place would be the right place to go.

Determine escape routes from each room.  In developing your plan, go room to room and establish the two best escape routes from each.  Whether your family is faced with a fire or an earthquake, the primary exits may not be passable.

Plan what to do if you must evacuate.  Make sure everyone in the family knows where the emergency kit is located, and assign two family members to be in charge of putting it in the vehicle. Map out multiple evacuation routes, and practice driving those routes twice a year.  Think about alternate routes as you drive, in case your planned roads are impassable.

Special considerations.  Be sure to take into account special considerations such as elderly family members, those with disabilities, and pet care.

Other Ways to Be Prepared

In addition to creating a family emergency response plan, you can make sure your family is prepared by installing fire and carbon monoxide detectors in your home, building emergency kits, teaching household members how to use fire extinguishers and turn off utilities, and taking first aid and CPR classes.

At Premier Aquatics Services, we believe in preparing all of our clients with lifesaving skills.  From child swim lessons to American Red Cross CPR Certification, we provide training all year long.  Click here to learn more or enroll in CPR classes today!

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