September is National Preparedness Month, making it the ideal time to focus your attention on making sure your family, home, and even your community are ready for any sort of natural disaster you might face. Over the past several years, communities across the country have experienced the difficulties that come with hurricanes, tornadoes, winter storms and wildfires, which is why no matter where you live, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are prepared. This month serves as a reminder that all families can prepare with a family emergency response plan, a supply kit, alerts activated on your mobile phone, and that you have the proper insurance policies on your home, so you can ensure your family is “prepared, not scared.” Read on for four ways you can keep your family safe during an emergency.
1. Create & Practice a Family Emergency Response Plan
Preparing your family can be as easy as starting with a conversation over dinner. Remember it’s important to include the kids (and pets too!) in the disaster planning and practicing process, this way they know what to do even if you are not there. After you discuss the planning process, make a plan and then practice it together. Some examples of things you should include in your plan are:
- Practice a fire escape plan by having a home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone. Include the pets in this process too so you––and they––know what to do and are comfortable in the car.
- Download a group texting app or create a family group text so your entire circle of family and friends can keep in touch before, during and after an emergency.
- Learn how to turn off utilities such as natural gas in your home.
- Remember to not just prepare, but practice! The key to a safe evacuation during an emergency is everyone knowing what to do and where to meet. Give every family member a role and responsibility.
2. Build a Supply Kit
When putting together a plan for your family be sure to understand what types of emergencies could affect your community and then build a supply kit that fits your area and families specific needs. Some tips include:
- Prepare for a power outage or a weather emergency by having enough food, water, and medications to last for at least 72 hours.
- Include a first aid kit, flashlight, and tools for turning off utilities and natural gas
- Throw in basics such as a whistle to call for help, a manual can opener for food, local maps and back up cell phone chargers
- Also consider pet food and extra water (If necessary), cash, important family documents, and a sleeping bag or a warm blanket for each person
3. Make Sure You are Covered
The last thing you want to worry about during an emergency is if you have the proper insurance on your home should a disaster happen. Be sure to check your current homeowners policy to ensure you have the right coverage, and set aside some savings to help during an emergency as well. Since it can take up to 30 days for insurance companies to pay benefits, it’s important to make sure you are prepared financially if disaster does strike. It’s also a good idea to keep some cash on hand in case of an emergency since ATMs and credit card readers might not be available. Cash will help with those immediate expenses.
4. Prepare the Kids
Remember you might not always be with your kids during and emergency so make sure they know exactly what to do. Some things you can do to prepare them include:
- Teach them what to do in an emergency when at home or away from home.
- Help them know how to communicate during an emergency. Topics to review include: texting, emergency contact numbers, calling 911, and even having an out-of-state contact to call since local systems are often overwhelmed and not connecting.
- Make sure their school emergency contacts are updated to include a neighbor, grandparent or older sibling so someone other than yourself can get them out of school if needed.
- Talk about using social media as an additional source of communication during an emergency and set up a family group text.
- Include games, books and a favorite stuffed animal in the supply kit.