Emergency Preparedness Tips – No one likes to think about emergencies and the devastation they can potentially have on our lives, but the fact is that they do occur, and often unexpectedly. You and your family should always have an emergency preparedness plan in place, regardless of whether you’re facing a natural or man-made disaster. With a little bit of careful planning, you can help ensure that you and your loved ones will safely survive these critical times. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the unexpected:
Stay informed – Assuming that electricity or cell phone service is working, try to stay up to date on the situation through TV or the Internet, including evacuation information. You may also want to consider investing in an emergency radio to keep among your disaster readiness items. Emergency radios not only keep you informed about the disaster through public service alerts, but some models also feature flashlights and charging capabilities for smartphones or tablets. There are many different types of radios on the market, but you’ll likely need only a basic one for the primary purpose of receiving emergency broadcasts.
Develop a family communication plan – All family members should be familiar with agreed-upon procedures and the locations of meeting places in the event of an emergency. Make sure each member carries an ICE, or “in case of emergency” card, with information such as any medical conditions, prescription drugs used, blood type, and important phone numbers.
Assemble a “bug out bag.” – Bug out bags are emergency kits filled with critical supplies that would be required in the event of an emergency, for at least a 72-hour period. Many things can be included in the bag depending on your family’s needs, but basic items should generally include:
• first aid supplies such as bandages, gauze, antibiotic, and aspirin;
• prescription medications;
• cell phone car charger;
• fire extinguisher;
• tool kit;
• flashlight and batteries;
• jumper cables;
• soap or hand sanitizer;
• writing paper and pens;
• blankets and warm clothing items.
The BOB bag should also include a good stockpile of non-perishable, emergency food supplies such as granola, peanut butter, canned meat or fish, dry cereal, energy bars, and bottled water or juice. If you do include canned food items, remember to pack a can opener as well.
Protect important documents – Make copies of items such as birth and marriage certificates, wills, passports, and insurance policies, and store the originals in a safe or a dry, waterproof box.
Don’t forget about the pets – Your pets are members of the family too, and should never be left behind in the event of an emergency. However, you should prepare for the possibility of being separated from them by having them micro-chipped, so they can be returned to you if they’re found or brought into a shelter. If you need to evacuate and can’t take them with you, take them to a family member’s home for the duration, if possible, and remember to pack extra food and water for them as well.
Don’t panic – While easier said than done, one of the most important things you can do is stay calm in the face of an emergency. Remaining level-headed throughout a natural or man-made disaster will not only help you make important decisions quickly and rationally, but just may be what saves you or the life of your loved ones.