We’ve been touting the idea of a family emergency plan for quite a while in our Small Good Choices™ literacy series. But seeing the devastation and calamity in Houston brings forth an important small good choice from the Boy Scouts: be prepared. Here are some important ideas that you can do to protect your family in the event of a disaster, ranging from a power outage to floods to whatever.
- Have a family communication plan. Figure out how you will contact each other, both with electricity and without. Remember, in a disaster, the cell towers may be out, as well as the electricity. There is a good chance the phones will not work.
- Have a contact card. The hyperlink is to the FEMA ‘Family Emergency Communication Plan’. It’s a card with contact info. Write it with waterproof ink and even consider laminating it. If your younger set balks at the idea of a card, inform them that cellphones don’t work once the batteries are dead and the cell towers are out.
- Have a backup location. This is a spot where you can meet. So you might say to the family: ‘If we can’t communicate by cell, meet at the even numbered hours at the NE corner of Woodard and Square Lake Road.’
- Have emergency numbers ready, in the house, on your phone and somewhere written down (wallet, car, purse).
- Have a family disaster plan.
- Determine the escape route out of your house. Have multiple options.
- Fix a meeting place after evacuation.
- Check safety devices, like ladders, fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, etc. A good memorable check date is the daylight saving time changes.
- Have a ‘Go’ bag or box. This is a container of the immediate emergency items you may need if you have to leave in a hurry.
- 3-day supply of food and water
- First aid kit
- Tools or multi-tool
- Flashlight and spare batteries
- Solar or hand crank phone charger
- Emergency radio
- Mirror (for signaling)
- Contacts list and contact sheet
- Copies of crucial documents, like passport and/or driver’s license
- Zip lock bags
- Pet supplies (3 days food, medications, leash)
- Mace or self-defense device
- 3 day supply of medications
- Contact lenses and spare eyeglasses
- Extra set of house and car keys
- Child supplies (diapers, formula, bottles)
- Some cash: ATMs don’t work without electricity, and neither do credit cards
- Duct tape
Put all of your stuff in a waterproof bag or a large Tupperware container. Write your name and contact info on the container (waterproof ink).
Yes, this sounds a little frightening. Look at the images of the poor folks in Houston or any disaster. Would you rather run out of your house in your pajamas, wondering what was going on, and having your cell phone quit because the water rose above it, or have a plan? Take some time with your family and work out the ‘what we will do’ scenario. We hope you’ll never need it. But plan for the worst and hope for the best.