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by Karen Schroter
Emergency Preparedness Tips
Keep your gas tank at half full or above.
You never know when a disaster will hit. Be prepared to evacuate the area far enough to be safe, find shelter and have power to refuel. If power is out gas stations will be closed and earthquakes could make them unsafe. Make this a habit on your way home each evening. Many recent disasters have occurred at night. Have peace of mind that you can, if able, drive to a safe location even out of town to a relative or friends home.
Is your under the bad emergency kit ready when you need it most?
Each person/bed in your home should have this. Even guest rooms!
- Headlamp/flashlight - I prefer a headlamp to free up your hands. This is especially important if you have children, others needing assistance and/or pets. Be sure to check/change batteries yearly.
- N95 or better mask - Smoke, chemicals or other harmful inhalants can hinder an evacuation. Have a couple in your box in case a child sneaks in during the night.
- Closed toed shoes - Slip on is best. Update your children's box with a pair that may be a bit worn but still fit. Maybe this is in preparation for a new school year.
- Warm clothing - Depending on your night time attire, a sweatshirt/pants is typically a good choice. Zip up may be easier than pull on. Think through doing this in the dark.
- Extra glasses - You may wear contacts or your daily glasses may get tossed about. Be prepared to grab an old but still usable pair from your box.
- Cash - You may not be able to get to your GO Bag (more on that in a tip to come). Have some small bills available to grab in case you need to buy food, gas... Small bills because change might not be available in a store that has lost power.
- Water - If you can not get to your emergency supplies, water is high priority! Change out as the expiration near. You can also get water in cans, boxes and packets. Note: a gallon of water per day per person is suggested for emergency supplies.
- Snack- It is a good idea to add a simple snack to your box. Nuts, bars, something with protein that can sustain you if needed. A fueled body will be better equipped to handle the stress that may occur.
- Extra car keys - In case you can not get to them in another part of your home.
- Dog leash and booties (remember extra water and snacks for pets) Broken glass may be a hazard. Keep your pet contained and away from danger. Booties will protect their feet. Freeze dried treats have a long shelf life and are typically a protein source.
- Medication- only if kept safe from young children and pets! If you take a medication that is a necessity to your well being, pack a couple doses to allow you time to get to a pharmacy.
- Phone charger - if you can not get to your GO Bag where one will always be kept. Be sure to update as you change phones.
It is important to have family drills so that children, aging adults and those with challenges are confident in getting their box out, getting shoes and masks on in the case of a real emergency. Doing so may initially bring up fear, make it a fun but necessary part of your overall family preparedness plan. Teaching them the meaning of precautionary and allowing them to voice their fears is better done during a safe time than during an actual emergency.
Do you have an Emergency Communication Plan?
Are you safe, looking for family members, need to get a message to others, at a meeting place?
Texting is best! During an emergency, phone line bandwidth will get congested. Texting uses less bandwidth and has more potential of getting a message out than a phone call. Text can also have the possibility of storing and send automatically when capacity is available.
Prepare an Emergency Contact List. All family members need to have it with them at all times. Use THIS template and print an information card for your wallet or backpack. Print THIS form to post at home, give to your out of area contact person and other relatives.
Have a contact out of the area or out of state. Local phone service will be busy where getting a call or text out of the area may go through. Be sure to ask for acceptance of this contact role, that it is someone children are familiar with and comfortable talking with on the phone, that they know your family plan (meeting location, members in the group)
Know school emergency procedures. Always keep your emergency information current with your children's school. Know what their plan is and how your child will be cared for until you can get to them.
Letting others know you are safe. Advise your out of area contact. Use social media. Face book and Twitter have a "Mark as Safe" option but, it may take time for this to become available. Manually post on your account/page that you are safe and any other critical information. Post to the American Red Cross Safe & Well site.
Have pre-set evacuation locations. A local park or community center if the emergency/disaster has not affected your neighborhood and the entire local area. Select a second location further away in the case a broader area is not safe. For shelter locations text SHELTER and a zip code to 43362. Remember the pets, know where they are welcome to evacuate with you (check with your local hotels).
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