Imagine this. You and your spouse are at work. The kids are at school. All of a sudden the emergency alert warning goes off on your phone.
It's worse than you expected. It's that one thing you feared would happen one day. And, everyone in the family is in a different location.
What do you do? Who gets the kids from school? And, where do you go after that so that you find each other?
It's just that type of situation that can be the start of an emergency that you're not prepared for. By setting up an emergency preparedness plan, you will all know exactly what to do.
When will you need an emergency plan?
If your family is threatened by bad weather like a fire, hurricane, or tornado, it can be important to have a plan in place so you know what to do.
If an earthquake has threatened your home and everyone needs to meet at another place, it's important that you have an emergency preparedness plan.
But, there are other possibilities as well. What happens if there is a chemical spill in your neighborhood? Or, if you live in an area near a nuclear reactor or chemical plant, what happens if they have an accident and you need to evacuate?
Or, for those in the city, how would you react if there was social unrest that you needed to get away from to keep your family safe?
When you need an emergency plan really depends on where you live and who is in your family.
How to Set up an Emergency Plan
The first thing you need to do is to designate a central location where you will all meet. This could be the big tree in your backyard. Or, it might be a location in town that is easy to get to.
Pick on location and make sure that everyone knows where it is.
Include all emergency phone numbers
You will not only need phone numbers for each other, but it's important that you include numbers for your home insurance, the local hospital, the veterinarian, a nearby neighbor or relative, doctors, and your local pharmacy.
Make sure to include phone numbers for local police and fire departments as well. For parents of younger kids, make sure to include the number for the poison control hotline.
You may need to contact these places in an emergency and you'll want to have those numbers on hand.
Decide who gets the kids
If you have younger children that are at school when this emergency happens, you need to decide who gets the kids from school to go to your meeting spot.
Otherwise, you may both head towards school to get them and not be certain where everyone is. This is even more important if you have kids in different schools.
Remember your pets
If this emergency is happening where you live and you need to leave, someone needs to be sure that your pets are safe.
Make sure that you have pet carriers, leashes, and identification handy so you can rush in, get your pets, and get to safety easily.
It's easiest to have a backpack loaded with extra food and pet supplies in a central location of your home. Know where it is and whose job it is to get your pets to safety.
Have supplies ready
What happens if you need to be away from home for a few days? Or, what happens if your home is in danger from severe weather?
You need to not only have a plan in place, but you need to have the basic supplies you need for your family for the immediate future.
At a minimum, you'll want a backpack for each person in your home along with one for each pet. Even the youngest child can wear a backpack provided it's sized for their age.
Here are a few things that each person's backpack should contain.
- At least one change of clothes including shoes and outerwear.
- A few simple snacks and a bottle of water. We like granola bars and peanut butter crackers.
- At least a few days of any important prescription medication.
- Mini first aid kit and antibacterial wipes.
- Personal care items like travel toothbrush & toothpaste.
- Cell phone charger (electric and car)
- Small toy or book for kids to keep them occupied
- Flashlight with working batteries.
- A list of everyone else's cell phone numbers.
- Emergency cash in small denominations
You should also be sure that your car has its own preparedness supplies. These can be larger things that are too bulky to fit in a backpack.
If you'll be on the road or stuck somewhere overnight, it can be useful to have these things:
- Warm blankets or sleeping bags
- A few jugs of drinking water
- Duct tape
- Fishing supplies
- Heavy work gloves
- Firestarters and matches
- GPS and charger
- More cash or prepaid debit cards
- Copies of important documents
- Leash and pet food with an extra carrier
Having these things in your trunk all the time can help if you are trying to be prepared for a blizzard or winter storm.
Practice makes perfect
Don't wait until there is an emergency to put this into place. Make an emergency plan checklist and put it on the refrigerator.
Make sure that everyone in the family understands why you have one and what makes an emergency.
Practice the plan to be sure that it works well and you haven't forgotten anything.
If you have very young children, be sure not to frighten them when you discuss this. Try to explain it as a type of game you can play just in case.
Be sure that they know their full name, address, and their phone number in case you are separated.
By making an emergency preparedness plan today and having your supplies on hand, you will be more likely to be prepared when an emergency does happen.
If some of these items don't work for your family, you can always adjust them so that you have what you think you'll need.