As I watch the sad images out of Texas, my heart goes out to all the families there and my head wonders how many of them were caught unprepared. It may be only a coincidence that September is National Preparedness Month, but that’s all the more reason to sit down with your family and put together an emergency plan. Consider that you may not all be together when a disaster strikes, but you’ll want to wind up back together sooner than later. Follow these four steps to create an emergency plan that works for your family.
Step 1: Discussion
There are four items you and your family must discuss prior to completing your family’s emergency plan. The answers help guide your plan and often reveal other areas where your family has concerns that can be addressed in the process.
1. How will alerts and warnings be received?
Texts, apps, radio, etc. There are numerous ways for you and your family to receive warnings and updates about impending disasters. You should choose the one or two that work best for your family and agree on who will receive them.
2. Where will you take shelter?
In the northeast, we don’t typically have tornado basements or fallout shelters, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t places to take shelter during an emergency. Will you go to a relative’s house? Or a public space like a school? It’s important the entire family knows where to take shelter so you can be reunited quickly. If you have pets, be sure your shelter plan takes them into account.
3. How will you get out?
Depending on the type of emergency, roads may be blocked. Have several evacuation routes in mind so you can get out regardless of the conditions around you. If your evacuation plan relies on public transportation, be sure you have the schedules handy and understand their emergency policies as well.
4. How will you communicate with each other?
Phone lines and cell towers can be impacted during a disaster. While they’re likely your family’s first choice for communication, you may want to consider having a backup form of communication.
Step 2: Consider Your Family’s Specific Needs
This includes things like pets, elderly family members you care for, prescriptions, dietary needs, etc. Each of these factors must be taken into account when creating your emergency plan to ensure they’re properly addressed in a crisis situation.
Step 3: Create Your Plan
Fill out this template or use it as a guide to writing your communication plan.
Step 4: Practice Your Emergency Plan
Practice makes perfect applies to a lot more than tying shoes. School children participate in fire drills throughout the school year to ensure they’re ready just in case they need to be. Apply this same concept to your family emergency plan so if you need to use it, everyone is ready.