Plan ahead to stay safe
Having an emergency kit is a great start, but when it comes to emergency preparedness, having a complete plan in place designed to keep your family safe and secure in the event of an emergency or disaster is critical, particularly since sometimes you only have a few minutes to react.
Since September is National Preparedness Month, now is the perfect time to work on your family’s plan together. According to the American Red Cross, the following should be discussed and included in your plan:
- Who is responsible for what? Identify key responsibilities for each member of your household and make sure everyone know what they are expected to do. For example:
- A plan for your pets. Make sure to factor your furry friends into your plans, and research pet-friendly motels and shelters along your evacuation routes.
- A designated safe place. If you’re ordered to evacuate your home, your designated safe place will be the place where you all gather. Make sure to plan several different routes to your safe place in case roads are closed.
- An emergency contact person. Identify an emergency contact from outside your area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.
- How to contact and find each other. Include two places to meet: one that’s near your home in the case of a sudden emergency like fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent you from returning to your home.
- Who will be getting the family pets secured in take-along carriers?
- Who will be grabbing your emergency kit?
- Who will be turning off all the appliances and lights and locking the door?
- Who will be contacting your emergency contact to keep them informed as the situation develops?
- How to let other family and friends know you’re safe. You can stay in touch with your designated contact, but you can also register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to let family and friends know you’re safe, or call 1-800-RED CROSS and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself and your family.
It’s wise to make sure you know about the kinds of disasters that are possible in the area where you live or in places you plan to visit. Make sure to find out how officials in these areas plan to communicate with you during an emergency so you know where to turn for accurate information and evacuation instructions, if necessary.
Part of being prepared is helping others in your family and community stay safe and protected too. With the help of Foresters Community Grants, members can organize their own Foresters Prepared With Care activity, where participating members receive life-saving preparedness training led by local Red Cross chapters, and assemble Red Cross emergency preparedness kits to take home and share with their friends, families and community. The kits will include essential items such as flashlights, fresh water, hand sanitizers, emergency blankets, etc.
Remember, planning ahead can help keep everyone safe. Make sure everyone in your household knows your plan, and practice evacuating your home twice a year to make sure all your family members are comfortable with their duties so they are able to react quickly and confidently the event of an emergency.
For more information on what to include in an emergency preparedness kit visit the American Red Cross.
412763D CAN/US (09/15)