In the last few months, the news has been dominated not only by earthquakes (like the one in Anchorage, Alaska), but also by other natural disasters like mudslides, fires, and floods – and it doesn’t seem to be abating any time soon. Across the nation, families are being evacuated and displaced – and if they’re lucky, that’s the worst of it. Some families now find themselves without homes and basic supplies.
But there are steps you can take to prepare your family for an emergency scenario like this. If you don’t yet have a disaster preparedness or disaster recovery plan, you should put it at the top of your to do list. Don’t know where to start? That’s okay! We’ve got you covered with a introductory guide to the three most important first steps to take towards preparing your family for a potential disaster.
Step One: Prepare Your Emergency Disaster Kit
This kit should be full of everything you’d need to survive for 2-3 days in the case of a disaster. Keep these supplies in a duffel or backpack and store it somewhere easily accessible, preferably near your front door. An ideal location would be the coat closet in your foyer; keeping your emergency kit upstairs or hidden in piles of storage will make it difficult to access in times of crisis.
When planning the items to keep in your emergency kit, there are some basic items that every family should have, such as:
- A fully-stocked first aid kit
- Water (it’s recommended to have one gallon of water per person, per day, for drinking and sanitation)
- Non-perishable food
- A flashlight
- Extra batteries
- Warm blankets or reflective Mylar thermal blankets
However, you should make sure to customize your kit to your family’s needs. If you have a baby, for example, you should keep a supply of diapers and baby food on hand. If a member of your family has a specific medical condition, like diabetes or asthma, make sure you have an extra supply of medicine like insulin or an inhaler. You can find an extensive recommended list here.
Step Two: Develop Your Family Disaster Plan
Make important decisions ahead of time, like who will pick up your children from school or daycare if both parents are unable to reach them in a time of disaster. Choose a safe and recognizable meeting point for in case your family gets separated. Even come up with an escape route from your own home in case of fire or other situations which may make the front door unreachable.
While these decisions may seem scary, it’s important to know what your plan is before anything happens – after all, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. In case you’re unsure of exactly what to plan in advance, here’s a downloadable disaster plan template from the Red Cross to get you started.
While these decisions may seem scary, it’s important to know what your plan is before anything happens.
Step Three: Communicate and Practice
Once you (or you and your partner) have made the big decisions, it’s time to sit down with the whole family and go over the particulars. Make sure your children are aware of important information, such as where the emergency kit is stored, where to meet in case of separation, and who to contact in an emergency if parents are unavailable. If possible, practice certain parts of your plan with your family periodically to make sure that everyone is fully prepared.
It’s important to carefully and calmly explain to your children why you’re taking these precautions. Family disaster preparedness communication is not the easiest task, because you don’t want to frighten your children with the possibility that something bad could happen at any time. However, taking the time to calmly explain the situation to them will help them feel more empowered and in control in the case of a real emergency situation.
While the hope is that your family will never need to use your disaster preparedness plan, it’s always safer to have one in place just in case. At Genexa, we care deeply about the health of our families and yours, and want to enable you to take care of your health and safety in every way possible. Make sure to sign up for our email list for more essential content like this.