Emergency Planning

EMERGENCY PLANNING: A Great Idea! Then Why Haven’t You Done it?

Has your family made an Emergency Plan? If not, Do It NOW!

This investment of time today will pay you priceless dividends in the event of an emergency.  Nobody has ever said that emergency planning is something you shouldn’t do, but how many people actually take the time to plan and practice a
ire escape route or a disaster plan? If you do, you are to be commended, but you
are also in the tiny minority of those people who report practicing an emergency plan.
We face increasingly busy lives. Many of us can’t even make time for breakfast,
as we rush out the door towards another day full of appointments, interruptions, phones, pagers, and faxes.

“An Emergency?? Sorry I haven’t got time for an emergency today!”

Fire, earthquakes, winter storms, and other disasters just occur, with little or no warning. They don’t consult nor adhere to anyone’s schedule, and you can’t ask them to come back next Tuesday when you have some free time. That’s why
they are called emergencies. When they happen, you have no choice but to face them and cope. Your best defense is a plan, preparation and a little practice.

What disasters might you face?

Earthquakes, windstorms, snowstorms, power outages, floods and hazardous materials spills. Have all happened in our community. Consider that a disaster or emergency could occur any time of the day or night. Consider that dark of night could make a difference in how you cope with an emergency. Don’t depend on regular services such as telephone, power, paging services or even cellular. During
a disaster these services are frequently disrupted either by the disaster itself or by demand that exceeds the system’s capacity. Find out about disaster plans at your workplace, and your children’s school or daycare center.

Create a disaster plan for your family.

Meet with your family and discuss why and how to prepare for a disaster. Stress
the importance of working together as a team and that having a plan will enable
you to cope with the event calmly and safely. Discuss each type of disaster and what to do in the case of each emergency. Have a fire evacuation plan for your
home. Establish a meeting place outside. Practice the escape routes (remove breakables, then try it with your eyes closed.) Pre-determine a friend or relative’s house or other specific location where the family will meet in the event you are unable to return to your home. During the day, your family can be widely spread
out, so it’s a good idea to know where to meet up during a disaster. Ask an out-of-town friend or relative to be your family contact. (Reciprocate; you be their contact too.) It is easier to call long distance following a disaster. Instruct your children on how to locate the number and call collect. For adults, consider writing the number
on your long-distance calling card in indelible ink. Put together a disaster preparedness kit with things like drinking water, battery operated radio, first-aid kit, food, etc. A large ice chest is a good choice to use for storing supplies — but dedicate it to the purpose and don’t press it into summertime picnic use. The American Red Cross publishes excellent material on this subject.

Put the plan into action.

Post emergency phone numbers, including your out-of-area contact. Teach your children how and when to call 9-1-1. Show each family member where and how to turn off the water, gas and electricity. Consider having a automatic shut off installed on the gas line that activates in the event of an earthquake. Install and maintain
Fire Extinguishers on each level of your home. Purchase and install escape
ladders where appropriate. Install and maintain Smoke Detectors in each bedroom and on every level of your home. If you have battery operated detectors, remember
to change the batteries at least annually. Consider a Carbon Monoxide Alarm for your home. Follow manufacturers directions carefully. Proper placement of these detectors in your home is important to their effectiveness.

Practice and maintain your plan.

Mark your calendar for a once-a-year update of the plan. This update, may include rotating/refreshing your emergency preparedness supplies. Review the plan to include changes that may occur. If the kids change schools for example, you may need to adjust your plan. Maintain fire extinguishers. Conduct fire evacuation drills. EVERYONE in your home must know how to get out in the event of a fire.
Hesitation and uncertainty will cost you valuable time — time you cannot afford
to waste when life is at stake.

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