Looking for New Year’s resolution ideas? How about one that will improve your safety and peace of mind in an emergency? Every family should have an emergency plan, and there’s no better time than now to start preparing!
Plan for emergencies that happen in your area.
For instance, California residents should plan for earthquakes, while Florida locals should get ready for hurricanes, and people in the Midwest should prepare for tornados. Then, all families should know how to respond to a house fire, flood, and other emergencies that can happen anywhere. Think about how you’ll shelter in place during a winter storm or evacuate to safety during a wildfire.
Have a plan in case your family gets separated.
Communication may be down during an emergency, so make a plan before disaster strikes. Choose two meeting places: one locally for sudden emergencies, such as a house fire, and another outside your neighborhood in case you are asked to evacuate the area.
Choose an out-of-town emergency contact. Make sure everyone in your family carries emergency contact information, both in writing and saved in their cell phones.
Make an evacuation plan.
Prepare to evacuate on a small and large scale. First, practice home fire drills twice a year. Make sure every room has at least two exits, and practice crawling below the smoke and testing closed doors with the back of your hand.
Then, make a large-scale evacuation plan, which includes knowing routes out of the city and the locations of shelters in your area. If you have pets, keep a list of animal-friendly hotels you can turn to.
Consider the needs of each family member.
Some people living with you may need special accommodations during an emergency. Planning for seniors, people with disabilities, children, and pets is especially critical since their survival may be at greater risk. The American Red Cross has some helpful resources for catering to the needs of every family member.
Know how you’ll contact distant loved ones.
If a disaster occurs in your region, local news coverage and social media posts may alert your distant loved ones before you do. Worried family members may attempt to call, which is a major reason why home phone lines become jammed during emergencies. Help fewer calls jam the airwaves by telling your loved ones you’re all right.
One way is to register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website. Concerned friends and relatives can search for your name on the list to put their minds at ease. You can also send texts or update your social media page to let everyone know you’re okay.