Here are some guides to help your family stay safe in an emergency.
Preparing Your Home for an Emergency
One of the most common disasters most families face is fire, which can spread through a come very quickly. Taking these precautions can help you and your family get out of the home to safety in case of fire. Here are some necessary steps you must take in case of fire:
- Make sure every room has two escape routes. This can include a door or window.
- Prepare an escape plan with your family and practice every 6 months.
- Coordinate a safe place for your family to meet after escaping the home.
- Store escape ladders in second story rooms and know how to use them.
- When you must leave through smoke, always crawl as low as possible to avoid breathing it in.
- Always feel a closed door before opening it to avoid walking into smoke and fire.
- When both exit routes are blocks, place a towel underneath the door to block smoke. Signal for help and call the fire department if you have a phone.
- Never go back into a burning home.
- Keep an emergency kit in your home that has basic supplies you may need.
How to Pack Your Emergency Kit
Your kit should always have basic supplies at the bare minimum. Ideally, it will have everything you need to live for a few days if you must flee your home. Your kit should be packed in a bag that is easy to carry and easy to grab during evacuation.
Here are the basic necessities you should include in your kit:
- Food. Nonperishable food that is easy to prepare. Have a 3-day supply for evacuations but a 2-week supply on hand in your home.
- Water. Plan for 2 gallons of water for each person, per day. Have a 3-day supply for evacuations but a 2-week supply for home emergencies.
- Hand-crank/battery-powered radio
- Flashlight with extra batteries
- Medications. Keep a 7-day supply plus any medical items needed.
- Basic first aid kit.
- A multi-purpose tool.
- Personal hygiene & sanitation products.
- Cell phone with a charger.
- Emergency contact information.
- Emergency blankets.
- Map of your area.
- Emergency cash.
- Copies of important documents like: home deed, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies, medical information and more.
Here are some other additional recommended items, particularly for families with small children and pets.
- Pet supplies. This includes a leash, collapsible food and water bowl, bag of food and ID.
- Baby supplies. Keep extra diapers, wipes, formula, bottles and clothing in your emergency bag.
- Medical supplies. You may need to pack medical supplies for conditions like diabetes, such as syringes. Other supplies include contact lenses, an extra pair of glasses, hearing aid, a cane.
- Activities for small children. A book, crayons, anything that will help them stay occupied.
- Manual can opener. This can help you prepare food you’ve packed.
- Extra keys to the house and cars.
Depending on your area, you may also want to include some other items to help you get by until you can reach a safe shelter.
- Rain gear.
- Extra clothing.
- Plastic sheeting and tape.
- Sleeping bags.
Making a Plan
Always have an emergency plan that everyone in your family understands. Discuss with your family how you will respond to likely emergencies and where you will meet if separated. Give each family member a responsibility and work together.
Always make sure there is an agreed-upon meeting place if you are separated. There should be two meeting locations: for sudden emergencies, meet right outside the home on the street; for evacuations, choose a meeting place outside of your neighborhood, such as at a coffee shop or friend’s home.
Have an emergency contact that is completely out of your area. Because local phone systems are often out of service during emergencies, you may have better luck contacting someone outside the city or state in an emergency. Make sure every family member knows who this contact is and has the number programmed into their cell phone.
In case of a planned evacuation, make sure your family has a plan about where you will stay. This may include a family friend, a motel or a shelter. Practice your evacuation plan twice per year by driving to the meeting spot and planning alternate routes if necessary.
Finally, plan for pets during an emergency. Make sure you have a list of motels and friends that accept pets. You should also keep a contact list of nearby animal shelters that can accept your dog or cat in an emergency.