Plan Ahead ….Today!
If a disaster were to strike today while you were at work, school, or traveling, do you know what you would do? For those with children or loved ones who depend on them, do you have a plan in place to contact or meet them? Nothing is certain in a disaster but stress and anxiety can be reduced if you plan ahead. Don’t forget about your pets and having the proper supplies for them as well. If someone in your house has a disability, special considerations should be given to ensure that they will be taken care of. The goal is to think about how disasters in your area will affect you. Would you be OK at home for a minimum of three days without outside help? Finances can be a huge barrier for people during and after a disaster. Do you have cash on hand in case of an emergency?
Whether considering a plan for yourself or your household, how and where you will evacuate should be at the top of your list for planning. Here are a few items to consider:
- Where is a meeting location near my home?
- Do I have an evacuation route? An alternate route?
- When emergency warnings are given, how will I receive them?
- If traveling with a pet, do I have the proper leash or carrier for them?
- Do I have a first aid kit accessible in my car or emergency bag?
The beginning of making a plan starts with asking yourself a few questions and finding solutions to them. Consider the specific needs of your household when making your plans. Your plan should be tailor-made if you have small children, medical needs or assistive equipment, pets, or persons with disabilities. For example, you may need to stock up on formula, diapers, and food for small children. If someone may have trouble understanding or are unable to physically evacuate, arrangements should be made in advance to assist them. If you live alone and have no family near, reach out to a friend or neighbor so that someone knows your plan as well. Once you have been able to think and talk through your plan, the next step is to write your plan down. You can choose to keep a physical copy of your plan or utilize an online free service such as smart911. Keeping record of your plan gives you’re a reference point when it’s time to both update and review your plan.
When disaster strikes, being able to communicate with others is often the first thing people do. What would you do if you could not use your cellphone? Have important phone numbers written down and handy such as schools, doctors, or service providers. Keep in mind that sometimes when phone calls do not go through, text messages can because they require less bandwidth. It is also a good idea to have an out-of-town contact because making a call long distance could be easier than across town when the phone lines are congested. In your cellphone, program an ICE (in case of an emergency) contact. If first responders or hospital personnel are able to access your phone, they know to look for this contact information. Meeting in person with your family should also serve as a part of your communication plan. When all else fails and you cannot talk to someone, have a place to meet. You should have a place to meet close by in your neighborhood and one outside of your neighborhood in case your neighborhood is not safe. Pick common locations such as a place of worship, grocery store, or community center.
When a disaster or emergency happens, you may only have moments to react. Plans are a great tool to give us some type of control when chaos is happening. However, developing and writing your plans should be accompanied with practicing your plan. It is a good idea to practice where you would take shelter in your home. Families can have fire drills and practice where they would meet outside. Make sure that you have phone numbers up to date. It also a good idea to have your important documents in an accessible place or have copies of them in case you need to grab them and go. Your emergency plan should not be tucked away and only used in case of an emergency. Continue to think through small things that you can do today to help you plan ahead for the unexpected tomorrow.