Are you ready?
Emergency preparedness for families

By Sarah Lyons

Are you prepared if a disaster strikes? It isn’t my favorite question to consider, but with children in the house it is good to ensure that my family is ready if fire, inclement weather, or worse affects our home and safety. How do you begin to prepare for the unexpected? Start with these simple tips:

Prepare a meeting place and procedure – If your house was to catch on fire what would you do? The answer may seem obvious to you, but it might not be to children. Have a family meeting and discuss what the evacuation plan would be in case of an emergency. Have the kids help find exits and come up with options if they are not accessible. Where will your family meet once they are safely outside? Designating a meeting place will help you account for any missing family members in an emergency. It’s also wise to show kids basic fire safety skills like “Stop, drop, and roll” and demonstrate what the fire alarm sounds like.

Prepare a kit – Prepare an emergency kit with extra shoes, clothing, first aid kit, food and water to have on hand in case of an emergency. Include a list of contact information, on paper, in case you cannot get to your electronic contact list.

Prepare communication – Assign a person who lives outside of your area to be the contact you will report to in an emergency. Having someone outside the area lessens your chance that your contact will also be dealing with an emergency. In a natural disaster, phone lines can be down or busy, so plan for other methods of checking in. In case of busy signals, try sending a text as it would be more likely to go through, or check in with others on social media.

Prepare pets – Have pets microchipped in case they get lost in an emergency. Also consider who would temporarily house your pet if you are displaced from your home, as shelters do not accept pets.

Prepare the house – Write a note on the calendar or set an alarm on your phone to remind you to check the batteries in your alarms regularly and review the evacuation plan with your family. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, smoke detectors should be tested at least once a month and batteries should be replaced at least twice a year.

Prepare yourself – Learn CPR and first aid, review how to use a fire extinguisher, know the exact routes of evacuation, and locate area shelters. Preparing yourself for the possibility of an emergency will help you remain calm if you are faced with one of these situations.

Prepare the kids – Make sure your kids know their address, phone number, and their parents’ names, and how and when to dial 911. Take a fire station tour or a first aid class to help them feel more prepared. Continue to discuss and practice what they have learned.
We all hope that the skills and preparation done to prepare for an emergency will never be used, but it is safest to take measures in case they do occur. Preparing for an emergency will help you keep yourself, your family, and your neighbors safe.

Sarah Lyons is a wife and stay-at-home mom to six children, including triplets. She writes from her home.

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