As we’ve seen in recent years, disasters can occur at any time and without warning.
To safeguard your home and loved ones, it’s crucial to have a disaster preparedness plan in place. The following steps will help you create a family preparedness plan that can be adapted to any emergency situation.
Assessing Hazards in Your Area
- Start by identifying the most likely disasters that could occur in your region and researching how to prepare for each one.
- Get to know your community’s warning signals and emergency response plan, including how to receive alerts via sirens, text messages, or other methods.
- Consider investing in a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather radio, which broadcasts official weather forecasts, warnings, and advisories 24/7.
- Locate nearby organizations that offer emergency management services, such as the Red Cross, Red Crescent, and other nonprofits, and keep their contact information handy.
- Familiarize yourself with the disaster plans in place at your workplace, your children’s school, and other places you and your family frequent.
Conducting a Family Meeting
- Schedule a family meeting to discuss the importance of disaster preparedness and the potential hazards in your area.
- Review the types of disasters that are most likely to occur and create a step-by-step plan for each situation.
- Assign tasks and responsibilities to each family member, making sure to emphasize the importance of working together as a team.
- Identify meeting points both within and outside your neighborhood in case of a sudden emergency, such as a fire or earthquake.
- Decide on a plan of action for evacuating your home and create a detailed family evacuation plan.
- If a family member is in the military or travels frequently, make sure to plan accordingly for their potential absence during a disaster.
- Establish a family communication plan in case disaster strikes and document the steps to take in different scenarios.
- If anyone in your family has special needs or disabilities, adjust your plan accordingly, and don’t forget to include your pets in your preparedness plan.
Secure your household
- Compile a disaster readiness kit.
- Determine the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
- Figure out the best evacuation routes out of your home.
- Get trained in basic first aid and CPR.
- Show each family member how and where to shut off utilities (water, gas, electricity).
- Take a complete inventory of your home and property.
- Educate each family member on how to use a fire extinguisher and where to locate one.
- Post emergency contacts (friends, family, neighbors, police, fire, etc.) in a visible spot.
Rehearse your plan
- Rehearse your plan with your family on a regular basis (every six months).
- Check your disaster readiness kit every three months.
- Replace stored water and food every three months.
- Update any emergency contact information as changes occur.
- The American Red Cross offers “How to prepare for emergencies” and training and certification.
- “Make a plan” from the Ready Campaign.
- Federal Emergency Management Agency.
- Professional water damage restoration company: Houston Restore PROS