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As unpleasant as it is to think about, every family needs a solid plan in place should the worst-case scenario happen. Whether it’s a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, a house fire, or a terrorist attack, disasters do happen. Being prepared, in advance, will greatly reduce the distress that comes with these events. Not to mention, a solid plan, can keep you and your loved ones safe.

According to the emergency experts at the American Red Cross, disaster preparedness is as easy as 1-2-3.

1. Get A Kit

The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends a list of items for a Basic Emergency Kit, but encourages individuals to consider where they live and their unique needs in order to best determine what additional items will be needed. They also suggest multiple kits: 1) a full, comprehensive kit for home, and 2) a smaller, portable kit/s for the workplace, vehicle, or other places your family spends time.

Basic items for your checklist include:

  • One gallon of water per person, per day for at least three days. This will allow for drinking and sanitation.
  • A three-day supply of non-perishable food items.
  • A battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries.
  • A comprehensive first aid kit.
  • A whistle to call for help.
  • A dust mask for filtering contaminated air.
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place if necessary.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • A wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • A can opener for food (if kit contains canned food).
  • A set of local maps.

When it comes to extra items you might need, here’s a list of questions to consider:

  • Will I need a supply of medication? For example, an asthma inhaler, or a required heart prescription.
  • Do I have supplies for my pet?
  • Is essential family paperwork easily accessible, such as insurance policies and proof of identification?
  • Do I have extra clothing? If you live in an area where hurricanes occur more frequently, for example, having a suitcase with extra clothing and items for evacuation is critical.
  • Will you need plates and utensils for your food?
  • Do I have an emergency infant kit, if necessary?

2. Make A Plan

Establishing a successful plan will count on carefully considering a list of comprehensive questions:

  1. What disasters are most common in my area?
  2. What is the nearest evacuation route?
  3. If my nearest evacuation route is blocked, what is an alternate?
  4. If separated during an emergency, where will we meet?
  5. If we cannot meet at home, what is our backup meeting place?
  6. If we are unable to communicate with the rest of the family, our emergency contact is?
  7. What is the best place in our home, should “shelter in place” be required?
  8. Which family member is responsible for what during an emergency, such as grabbing the radio, taking the important paperwork, finding the pet, etc.

The American Red Cross provides an online template and tips for helping you establish the best possible plan.

3. Be Informed

It’s important to know what actions to take for the disasters that are most common in your area. The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides a comprehensive list of emergencies with information on what to do before, during, and after each. Take the time to read up and be informed on those disasters that are most common in your area.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, you should find reliable information sources and warning or alert systems, in advance. Consider using their central emergency planning source, which will collect all of your vital information and store it in one convenient location. Most importantly, they suggest beyond a home plan, make sure you have a successful school and workplace plan in place to keep your family prepared in the event of an emergency outside of your home. Your successful management of an emergency will depend on strong preparation, so get started.


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