Disasters can happen anywhere. Being prepared for an emergency is important for the whole family! If only one person in the family has a plan, but nobody else knows about it, then the plan is not as helpful as it could be. If that one person becomes incapacitated, it could leave the rest of the family at loose ends. For that reason, it is a good idea to develop a family safety plan and go over it with the family until everyone knows what to do in the case of a catastrophe, especially since calamities tend to happen with no warning.
There are a variety of possible disasters that you may need to prepare for. The first thing to do is determine which may affect your home. Fires and robberies could happen anywhere, but natural disasters such as earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and flooding tend to be more regional.
What Your Home Safety Plan Needs to Include
1. Set areas to meet up. Without this, it will be difficult to know if the whole family is safe.
Start with one inside – a central location is best. Somewhere that is safe in the case of a tornado or bad storm is a good idea. This means no windows, near the middle of the house, and without windows. If your house is large, an alternative spot is a good idea, in case the first one is inaccessible or compromised.
Set outdoor meetup locations as well, in case of fire or the need to leave. Have a primary one, with an alternate in case it is needed.
2. Set up an escape plan diagram, like the ones in hospitals and schools. Draw the house’s floor plan, mark the location where the plan is posted, and mark the best route out in one color, with alternate routes in other colors. Discuss routes from different locations in the house with the family, making sure the children understand.
3. Make sure emergency numbers are posted and/or memorized. Teach children when it is appropriate to call emergency numbers, and when they should not.
4. Explain how the safety equipment works that you have in your home, so that everyone knows. Discuss smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. Set them off so the children will know what they sound like. Explain how fire extinguishers work.
5. If you are in an area where natural disasters such as tornadoes or hurricanes happen regularly, and even if you do not, since you can never be sure when a catastrophe may hit, there are some things to make sure you have on hand, preferably three days’ worth at the very least.
- Water is one of the most important things, since humans cannot live long without water. The minimum is one gallon per person per day.
- Food supplies that keep well but are easy to open and eat without needing electricity. If you have an alternate cooking method, such as a gas stove or a fire pit in the yard, you may still be able to heat up or cook items, but plan in advance. Remember that canned goods will require a can opener and include a manual one in with the supplies.
- Light in the case of a power outage is nice to have. Flashlights and extra batteries are the best option, but candles and matches or lighters may be a possibility, as well.
- Shelter, if the house is compromised or you end up needing to leave, in the form of a tent, tarp, or something similar can be packed in a backpack, or in the vehicle.
- Things to keep your family warm, such as blankets and sleeping bags are especially needed in the cooler months. Hand warmers can be nice for extra heat, and the mylar blankets are well known to preserve body heat well.
- First aid is always a key part of a disaster kit. If you have prescription medications, keeping a few days’ worth handy is a good idea, as well.
- A radio, battery powered, will help you to keep up with what is happening.
- Cash, because if it is a major disaster, there is a chance that debit and credit card readers will be unavailable.
- Extra clothing and hygiene items can be kept packed in backpacks or suitcases in case it is necessary to leave in a hurry – or not in a hurry. Remember soap, toilet paper, and hand sanitizer, along with hair care items, tooth care items, deodorant, etc.
- Remember that your pets will need food, water, and a leash or a safe containment of some sort.
- Tools are good to have handy, for fixing things, if possible, for turning off gas if needed, for a number of things. Shovels and trowels in case you need to dig a toilet area or plant food (depending on how long the event lasts).
- A map of the area, since cell phones must be recharged and the GPS on them will be of limited use if the charge of the phone is running low.
- Entertainment, especially for the children. Toys, books, a couple card games – it is not necessary to have large, heavy things, but a few small things can make a big difference!
6. Develop skills. No matter how good your plan, and how complete your stores, if you have not cultivated the skills needed for using the items, a disaster that turns into a survival situation may be the end of you. Learn to start a fire in several different ways, with different means and methods. Learn to grow food. Learn to harvest and purify water. Learn to put up your tent and take it down. Learn to dig a deep hole for toilet purposes. Learn first aid and CPR. Learn all you can, so you will be ready for whatever comes.
Once Your Plan is Complete
Practicing your plan is a very important exercise. Especially if your children are younger, you should practice a few times a year, and at least once at night when nobody is expecting it. This helps get the plan clear in everyone’s head and allows it to be more of an autopilot response than something that has to be considered and remembered in the time of need.
There are some resources you can get to aid you in your preparation.
LifeStraw Go Water Filter Bottles with 2-Stage Integrated Filter Straw for Hiking, Backpacking, and Travel
This also doubles as a bug-out bag for a family of four. If you have more than four in your family, you can get two or whatever is needed to take care of your family. If you have four or fewer, but want to be able to handle more than 72 hours, you could get multiples for that.
This 241-piece first aid kit covers most eventualities that could happen, and includes tools as well as treatment items.
This recharges via sunlight or hand crank. It includes a radio, a flashlight, a cell phone charging port, a blinker, and a siren.
50 tablets in a bottle will disinfect water to make it drinkable when you are away from home or in a situation where you cannot get water at home. Easy to carry in a pocket or bag.
The straws in these water bottles have a built in filter to purify water from most sources. The carbon filter is replaceable and each filters up to 100 liters of water, removing 99.999999% of waterborne bacteria and 99.999% of waterborne parasites.
This gravity powered purifier removes 99.99% of viruses, 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of parasites from 18,000 liters of water. This can provide clean drinking water for a family of four for up to three years.
This set of cookware is stainless steel and packed in a neat organizer bag. It includes all the essential kitchen tools, including serving spoon and fork, spatulas, knives, tongs, and cutting board.
These waterproof, virtually indestructible LED lanterns are bright and can last over 30 hours on 3 AA batteries.