How to Safeguard Yourself and Your Family During an Emergency
It’s a tragic truth that when a natural disaster strikes, it’s usually too late to start thinking about how you’re going to deal with it. Having your emergency preparedness plan ready is your key to deal with such catastrophes.
The time to prepare for hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and ice storms — and even earthquakes (yes, they can happen in Georgia) — is when things are calm.
We all know from our own experience and recent storms and floods that the risk of a natural disaster in Georgia is high. But by giving some thought now to emergency preparedness and response plans you can ease the effect of a catastrophe on you and your family.
Do It Yourself Emergency Preparedness
There’s help or offers from Government agencies and aid charities on emergency preparedness essentials but it’s down to you to work out the details.
There are three key parts: make a family emergency preparedness plan, build a preparedness kit, and being (and staying) informed. Let’s take a closer look.
How to Create a Family Emergency Plan
The important thing about a family plan is that everyone in your household should know it and should have practiced any parts of it that they can.
It’s not as complicated as you might think. The important pieces of an emergency preparedness checklist are to identify:
- The natural disaster dangers most likely to affect you and your family.
- Escape routes from your home
- Where you will meet or how you will communicate if you become separated.
- If you’re evacuated or can’t return home, where you will meet outside the neighborhood.
- An emergency contact outside the disaster area in case the family is separated or unable to get in touch with each other.
- Where any children will be evacuated to if they’re at school or daycare when disaster strikes.
- The location of somewhere safe inside your home, if you’re told to “shelter in place” during an emergency. Make sure it’s a place where you can pick up emergency broadcasts.
- The location of emergency shelters.
- Key telephone contact numbers for relatives, emergency services, utilities, local government.
- How to pick up emergency broadcasts and text messaging.
The name of each family member should be included in your plan, along with the jobs each will do before and during an emergency.
For instance, you’ll need one person for each of the following tasks: managing a disaster kit (see below); tuning-in to emergency messages; safeguarding family medical information; safeguarding financial information; looking after pets; and keeping the plan up to date.
It’s important to give special consideration for emergency preparedness for pets. Unlike the other members of your household, they won’t know what to do, even with a plan!
Your Emergency Preparedness Essentials Kit
Creating a good emergency and evacuation kit can be essential to your very survivability after a natural disaster, especially if you can’t live in your home, if power is out and if emergency help doesn’t turn up immediately.
What should be in an emergency preparedness kit? Pretty much everything you’re going to need to stay warm, fed and in touch.
The US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), through its www.ready.gov website, suggests the following essentials:
- Disaster supplies
- Water (1 gallon per person per day for at least 3 days)
- 3 days’ supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio
- First aid kit
- Extra batteries
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust masks, plastic sheeting and cut tape to protect yourself if you need to shelter in place
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual food can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone and chargers, plus back-up battery
- Comfort and wellbeing supplies. Depending on circumstances, these might include
- Prescription meds and non-prescription meds like pain killers
- Glasses and contact lens solution
- Baby products like infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and water for your pet
- Copies of important family documents. Other copies should also be in a safe deposit box, a water- and fire-proof safe or with out-of-town relatives.
- Sleeping bags for each family member
- Change of clothing and sturdy shoes
- Household chlorine bleach and a medicine dropper to disinfect water
- Fire extinguisher
- Disposable plates and utensils
- Activities for kids like puzzles and books.
It’s also worth thinking about having a lighter version of this kit in your car or even in your workplace.
And whoever is responsible for managing it should ensure food is stored in closed plastic or metal containers and that expired items are replaced as needed.
Download FEMA’s suggested supply list here: http://tinyurl.com/fema-supp-list.
Being Informed — and Staying in Touch
Dealing with a natural disaster means knowing how to respond and how to stay in touch both with each other and with emergency services.
The National Safety Council says this means having a family communication plan, as outlined above, that everyone affected knows about.
But to stay on top of potential threats, you should also:
- Find out how local authorities and emergency services will relay important information
- Know how to switch off utility supplies
- Have at least one member of the family who knows first aid and, if possible, how to give CPR
- Have a list of important phone numbers not just written down but also memorized
- Contact family members to let them know your situation.
- Consider using services on social media like Facebook to let people know you’re okay
The way you respond to emergencies differs quite a lot depending on the type of disaster. The National Safety Council has useful, separate pages on earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and tornadoes that are relevant to Georgia. Start here: http://tinyurl.com/NSC-preps
Don’t Overlook this One Important Thing
When disaster strikes or even when you know it’s on its way, it’s too late to take one of the most important steps in safeguarding your future — having adequate homeowner insurance and flood insurance.
This can make a huge difference in your ability to get things back to normal and repair or rebuild your home and your life after a disaster.
When you take out a Georgia flood insurance policy, insurers likely will insist on a 30-day waiting period before the policy becomes active, so don’t wait until the last minute to get this protection in place.
Grimes Insurance Your Trusted Insurance Advisors
If you’d like to discuss how to get properly protected, or you want to know more about flood risks in your neighborhood please contact us.