Kinds of Emergencies? Emergencies are events--natural or
human-generated--that disrupt daily life to a high degree. They may have...
Kinds of Emergencies?
Emergencies are events--natural or human-generated--that disrupt daily
life to a high degree. They may have already resulted in death and
damage or they may threaten death, injury, and damage. At the family
level, most emergency preparation is similar regardless of the cause of
the emergency. Think about past emergencies in your area. Hurricanes,
earthquakes, floods, fires and tornadoes suggest the kinds of
disruptions communities and families may face. Hazardous material spills
may present different challenges. Terrorist attacks can take many forms.
The idea is to know what's likely and what's not. By making your plan
based on your specific risks, your family can be better prepared. What
kinds of events are common in your area? If you are not sure, check with
the local Red Cross or your city or county emergency management or
emergency preparedness office or with firefighters and police officers
in your area.
do you plan?
First, think about your goals. For most people, the prime goal is
knowing that all family members are safe and as secure as possible
against harm. Most families want to be together if that is at all
possible. A second goal is having what you need to make it through the
immediate disaster period. The "Making Sure You Have What It Takes"
checklist can help with that. A third goal might be communicating with
out-of-town family about your family's safety. What other goals should
your family's plan address? Talk with other adults in the family. Talk
with teens and children. Find out their concerns and help ensure that
your disaster preparations address those concerns where possible. Remind
everyone that you're being preventive and prepared--not running scared.
Second, develop a plan with these goals and the following outline in
mind. Your family's plan is probably going to have some unique features.
But there are some basics.
Who: Who is included
in this plan? Relatives across town? Close friends? Just immediate
family members? What about family pets?
Where: Home is where
the heart is, and it's probably going to be the center of your
family plan. But what are the back-up locations? It might be the
nearby house of worship, the closest elementary school, or a close
friend's home. The point is to decide on the back-ups and make sure
everyone knows what and where they are.
What: What will
trigger the emergency plan? An official announcement? Notification
from authorities to people in your immediate area? A call from one
of the adults to all the others involved? A call from a child's
school? Remember to think about how other family members will be
When: What time
frames help shape your plan? Does everyone work or go to school
within a few miles? Then people should be at home fairly quickly. If
some people have a long commute, they may be held up by emergency
conditions. How do you cope if the emergency is projected to last
Why: Family members
should understand, to the best of their ability, why the plan
includes certain provisions. Why must children stay at school under
certain circumstances, for example? Why might a parent stay out of
town if on travel during an emergency?
How: This gets down
to the steps of the plan. Think through key points. Who will take
what responsibilities? Where will emergency supplies be kept? How
will supplies be updated? What about the Family Link-Up Plan--how
will it be updated? What different steps are involved in a "shelter
in place" situation versus an evacuation order? What if there is no
information from authorities? What training do family members need?
How often will the family review its plan?
the strategies and tactics to consider in developing a plan include the
Make sure everyone has
basic family phone contact numbers and business or school addresses.
Remember that email may work when phone circuits are overloaded.
Identify places to meet
both near the house and farther away. Set a priority order about
which place to go to, why, and when.
Establish an out-of-town
contact that everyone can call and report to. Make sure the contact
agrees, and make sure everyone knows how to dial that long-distance
number. Consider prepaid calling cards for everyone's convenience.
Keep vehicles in good
working order and keep the gas tank at least half full at all times.
Remember, if power fails, gas pumps won't work!
Stockpile a disaster kit in
advance and refresh supplies at least every six months. Consider
seasonal changes in your family's needs. For example, you might want
to have more blankets available in the fall and winter season.
Know how to turn off safely
the water, electricity, and gas that serve your home.
"What if?" your plan. What
if a major roadway is blocked? What if power is out and the car is
low on gas? What if mass transit is unavailable? Where will these
family members go? How will they communicate that they are safe?
What local situations in
your neighborhood or community might result in evacuation? How
should family members pack for this situation? What about care for
pets in cases where they cannot be in shelters?
Find out about plans that
link with yours. What plans do children's schools have in place?
What plans are in place where you and other adults work? Make sure
school and workplace have updated contact information for all
members of your family. What are local authorities' plans for your
How might your family work
together with neighbors to prepare and survive an emergency? Are
there neighbors with special needs? Who could help them? Talk
together; share the skills and equipment you could make available to
each other. Devise ways you could help each other's families if the
need arises. Third, revisit your plan.
Review the plan as a group
every few months. Consider holding family rehearsals or drills if
you live in areas where there might be little warning of an
Don't forget to update the
plan to account for new schools children attend, changes in job
locations or employers, and the like.
have any questions, please contact Deputy Shawn Brownell at