Emergencies may occur at any time and your family may be in different locations throughout the region. Transportation corridors and communication networks may be disrupted making it difficult to connect with family members who may be at work or school. For this reason it is important to have an established emergency plan so that your family will know how to get into contact, where reunification will occur, and how to proceed in emergency situations.
Building a Family Plan
Family plans should include the following information:
- What to do to stay safe during a disaster
- How you will reunite after a disaster happens
- The name and number of your out of area contact that will serve as the central communications point if the local phone lines are down or busy
Talking to your Kids
For most kids, you can start introducing safety actions at about 4-years-old. Teach one safety action such as Drop, Cover and Hold, and follow up with actually doing it so they can demonstrate they understand. Practice with them until you are satisfied they know what to do. As kids get older, you can talk about how a disaster is something that could hurt people or cause damage. Explain that nature sometimes provides "too much of a good thing" -- fire, rain, and wind. Explain how important it is to make a Family Disaster Plan. Teach children:
- How to call for help
- When to call each emergency number
- To call the family contact if separated
- To keep personal identification information in their possession at all times
Let them help with testing smoke detectors or building the family kit. You can get them their own backpack and have them assemble a kit for themselves. When you involve your kids in getting your family ready, you are insuring they understand the family plan and are building life skills that will come in handy as they grow up!
Preparing your Pet
Basic disaster kits should include:
- Pet identification. Ensure your pet's tags are up-to-date and securely fastened to your pet's collar. Tags should include a phone number and address. Consider micro-chipping.
- Photos. Have a photo of your pet for identification purposes.
- Food, water, medication, veterinary records, sanitary needs, and first aid kit.
- Carrier, harness, and leash.