Families should be prepared for all hazards that affect their area. NOAA's National Weather Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the American Red Cross urge each family to develop a family disaster plan.
Where will your family be when disaster strikes? They could be anywhere - at work, at school or in the car. How will you find each other? Will you know if your children are safe? Disasters may force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services - water, gas, electricity or telephones - were cut off?
Follow these basic steps to develop a family disaster plan:
I. Gather Information About Hazards. Contact your local National Weather Service office, emergency management or civil defense office, and American Red Cross chapter. Find out what type of disasters could occur and how you should respond. Learn your community's warning signals and evacuation plans.
II. Meet With Your Family To Create A Plan. Discuss the information you have gathered. Pick two places to meet: a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as a fire, and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can't return home. Choose an out-of-state friend as your "family contact" for everyone to call if the family gets separated and phone lines are down. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.
- III. Implement Your Plan.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by phones;
- Install safety features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers;
- Inspect your home for potential hazards ( such as items that can move, fall, break or catch fire ) and correct them;
- Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid; how to use a fire extinguisher; and how and when to turn off water, gas and electricity in your home;
- Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number;
- Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a disaster supplies kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry containers, such as backpacks or duffle bags. Keep important family documents in a waterproof, fireproof container. Keep a smaller disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
Your Disaster Supplies Kit Should Include:
IV. Practice And Maintain Your Plan. Ask questions to make sure your family remembers meeting places, phone numbers and safety rules. Conduct drills. Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Test and recharge your fire extinguisher(s) according to manufacturer's instructions. Replace stored water and food every six months.
- A three-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day) and food that won't spoil;
- One change of clothing and footwear per person;
- One blanket or sleeping bag per person;
- A first aid kit, including prescription medicines (Heartland Chapter sells Red Cross first aid kits);
- Emergency tools, including a battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a portable radio, flashlight and plenty of extra batteries;
- An extra set of car keys and a credit card or cash;
- Special items for infant, elderly or disabled family members.