First step: Have a plan!
It is important to make sure that the entire family is prepared for a disaster or an emergency, so part of surviving a disaster is putting a plan in place before you need it. Your family should have a disaster plan in place. You might not be together when disaster strikes, so an important part of the plan is making sure you are able to contact and find one another.
The Red Cross and Centers for Disease Control suggest some basic steps to take in putting a disaster plan together:
- Meet with your family or household members. Discuss how to prepare and respond to the specific kind of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, learn, work, and play. If you live on the Gulf Coast, that might be a hurricane. If you live in Kansas, a tornado, or in California, an earthquake.
- Identify responsibilities for each member of your household and plan to work together as a team.
- If a family member is in the military, plan how you would respond if they were deployed.
Plan what to do in case you are separated at the time of or during an emergency:
- Choose two places to meet: Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire, and outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.
- Small children?
- Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person. It might be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones, and everyone should know how to send text messages (even grandma).
Plan what to do if you have to evacuate your home for an event such as a hurricane:
- Decide in advance where you would go, what route you would take to get there, and where you would stay. You may choose to go to a hotel or motel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location, or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.
- Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable.
- Plan ahead for your pets. Keep a phone list of pet-friendly hotels/motels and animal shelters that are along your evacuation routes.
Emergency supplies to keep on hand:
- One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food (in addition to canned goods, a wide variety of dried and freeze-dried foods are available and have a very long shelf life. MREs are another possibility)
- Battery- or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both, as well as a flashlight with extra batteries
- A first aid kit, a whistle to signal for help, a dust mask to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting, and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation, along with a wrench or pliers to turn off utilities and manual can opener for food
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
- If needed: Prescription medications, infant formula and diapers, or pet food
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