Family Disaster Preparedness
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As humans, we are creatures of habit, prone to procrastination. Most of us simply shake off the need to prepare for a disaster, figuring we’ll eventually “get around to it.” We don’t want to think about the possibility of something bad occurring. Disasters, we reason, affect “other people”—the victims we read about in the newspaper.
Unfortunately, such denial prevents us from taking even the most basic emergency preparedness steps. This leaves us vulnerable—and dangerously unprepared—when a major disaster occurs.
Emergency preparedness begins with accepting that a disaster can occur in your area. Have you done the following?
- Think about the types of disasters that have occurred near you within the last century. Has your area been affected by floods, hurricanes, thunderstorms, winter storms, blackouts, tornadoes, earthquakes, landslides or mudslides, house fires, wildfires, volcanoes, tsunami warnings or terrorist attacks? Is your risk level for each of these emergencies high, medium or low? Check out American Family Safety’s Disaster Preparedness Library for complete details on how to prepare for specific emergencies.
- Develop an Emergency Preparedness Plan. Hold regular meetings so every family member—including children—understands what to do in case a disaster strikes. This includes mapping out escape routes, developing a Family Communication Plan, teaching family members how to shut off gas/water/electricity, determining where to store insurance papers and vital records, caring for family members with special needs and having a disaster plan for your pets.
- Purchase a disaster kit that meets your family’s emergency preparedness needs. Start by using American Family Safety’s Are You Ready? Family Assessment Tool to identify your individual needs based on where you live, the number of people and pets in your home, workplace and school logistics, and daily commutes. Our emergency supply kit meets Department of Homeland Security guidelines for disaster kits, with add-ons available depending on family size. It takes the guesswork out of building a functional emergency kit and can be customized appropriately. You may also order disaster kits for personal protection in your office, car or your children’s school.
- Sign up for a basic first aid or CPR class at a community center or Red Cross office near your home. When a disaster hits, rescuers will be stretched to their limits, able to respond to only the most severe emergencies. You may be on your own for up to 72 hours, so make sure adults are trained to administer care for common injuries like cuts, bruises and sprains.