When Disaster Strikesnewby.17 | May 3, 2011
The recent devastating tornados remind us that disaster can strike at any moment. These events often happen in the blink of an eye, sometimes without warning. Though families can never be free of these dangers, preparation can go far in helping you cope should an emergency strike. There are several things families should do to be prepared for an emergency.
Have a Family Meeting. Talk to your kids about potential dangers, especially those that are common for your area.
Choose an “Out-of-Town” Contact. Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be your contact. Contacts out of town may be easier to get ahold of in the case of a community emergency, and they can be the contact for other friends or family checking in on you.
Decide Where to Meet. In the event of an emergency, you may become separated from family members. Choose a place right outside your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire and a secondary location outside your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
Have Emergency Numbers and Contacts Available. Keep a list of emergency numbers and contacts on a business card, in your phone and/or on the fridge. Make sure everyone in the family knows how to contact emergency workers such as the police, fire department and poison control. Teach your child from a young age how to call 911 and tell the operator what is wrong.
Know Escape Routes and Safe Places. Make sure everyone in the family understands basic safety rules, such as where a safe place would be in a tornado and how to get out of the house in case of a fire. Also, reinforce the importance of listening to adults on what to do if a disaster happens while they are at school.
Assemble an Emergency Kit. Ready.gov suggests the following for a basic emergency kit:
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- 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
- Wrench or pliers to turn off
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- Local maps
- Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Practice and Talk about Your Plan Regularly. Make sure you talk with your kids and practice your plans, so your kids don’t forget. Also, make sure to maintain your emergency kit items, such as batteries.