Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services—water, gas, electricity or telephones—were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away. Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Follow the steps listed below to create your family’s Disaster Plan. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere – at work, at school or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe?
Four Steps to Safety
1. Find Out What Could Happen to You Disasters that May Affect Your Family: Natural, Human, Technological, Bomb Threat, Structural Failures, Wildland Fire, Transportation Failures, Earthquake, Hazardous Materials, Utilities Failures, Cold/Heat Wave, Terrorism.
2. Create a Disaster Plan Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster. Explain the dangers of fire, severe weather and earthquakes to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team.
• Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case.
• Pick two places to meet:
• Right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
• Outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home. Everyone must know the address and phone number.
• Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.” After a disaster, it’s often easier to call long distance. Other family members should call this person and tell them where they are. Everyone must know your contact’s phone number.
• Discuss what to do in an evacuation. Plan how to take care of your pets.
3. Complete This Checklist
Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.).
Teach children how and when to call 9-1-1 or your local Emergency Medical Services number for emergency help.
Show each family member how and when to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main switches.
Check if you have adequate insurance coverage.
Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher (ABC type), and show them where it’s kept.
Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.
Conduct a home hazard hunt.
Stock emergency supplies and assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit.
Take a first aid and CPR class.
Determine the best escape routes from your home. Find two ways out of each room.
Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
4. Practice and Maintain Your Plan
• Quiz your kids every six months so they remember what to do.
• Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills.
• Replace stored water every three months and stored food every six months.
• Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer’s instructions.
• Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year.