Is Your Family Ready for an Emergency?

On August 14, 2003, I remember that around noon I was actually in the kitchen preparing lunch for my son Kyle, who was 2 at the time. Suddenly, the lights went out. I knew I had paid Con Edison, our utility company so there was no need for the lights to go out. I went across to my neighbor and knocked on her door. Her lights were out too. It seemed like the entire Brooklyn area was down. As a matter of fact, the entire North East was without lights.

I sure wasn’t prepared for it to happen. There was nothing in my cupboards besides bread and peanut butter that the kids could eat and of course we always had water. Now, while our lights came back on the next day, I started thinking. What would have happened if it hadn’t? I wasn’t prepared for an emergency. It was then that I started planning and I have always been prepared in case another event happens. Here in Colorado during the summer, we have a lot of wildfires and so far, we have yet to be displaced but I’m so ready. Today we share with you some tips on how you can get your family ready for an emergency.

We all want to do our best to keep our families safe but occasionally things happen that are outside of our control. Accidents, as well as natural disasters, can have equal damage and pose threats to our homes and our family members. It is important to prepare beforehand to ensure every measure is taken to not only prevent emergencies but also react appropriately when they do occur. Here are some questions to ask your family and ways you can prepare for an emergency.

Does your family have an evacuation plan if you need to leave your home?

In the event a fire or flood threatens your home, it is important to have an evacuation plan in place to ensure your family makes it out of your home safely. Be sure to prepare in the following ways:

  • Establish a meeting place outside of the home
  • Walk through the house and discuss all points of exit. Draw a plan if you need to of the house and mark two exits out of every room.
  • Make sure each sleeping room and floor of the house has a smoke detector.
  • Do you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors installed?
  • Walkthrough your evacuation plan to ensure each family member knows what to do
  • Check to make sure routes are clear and windows are easily opened.

Finally, once you’re out, stay out! Let professionals go in to retrieve family members or pets that may not be able to exit on their own, for whatever reason.

Are important documents and items easy to access if you need to leave in a hurry?

Emergencies do not usually give you time to assemble important documents that would be difficult to replace if lost. Keep in a fire-safe or security deposit box that can be easily located and taken with you. 

Be sure to include the following:

  • At a Minimum: Social security cards, passports, birth certificates, and other important, hard-to-replace documents
  • Also Include: Your emergency contact information (closest relative, employer, friend), will and medical directives, all insurance information, financial accounts, health records, pet information, and property information.

Do family members have important phone numbers memorized?

Make sure each of your family members knows to call 911 in the event of a serious emergency. It would also be helpful to make sure they know the phone numbers of all immediate family members, any that live nearby or a trusted family friend who has agreed to come help if parents are not available for whatever reason. Do not rely on phones in a time when they may not be available.

Do you have an emergency fund?

In the event of an emergency, you may find yourself with extra expenses. It would be wise to set up an emergency fund for such a situation. Here are some tips for how to create your emergency fund:

  • Trim your budget and set aside just a little at a time.
  • Amount: Advice varies but shoot for 6–8 months of expenses.
  • Take into account groceries, transportation, childcare, and other expenses when deciding how much you will need to set aside.

This preparation should also include coverage for natural disasters so that you and your family are financially protected in the event of a major emergency. Lots of people like to view private flood insurance here and select the best rates they can work with. This provides added peace of mind and financial security in the event of unexpected disasters.

Do family members know basic first aid?

Even small children can learn some first aid basics, in case a family member is injured during an emergency. Here are some basics to be sure each member of the family knows:

  • How to keep calm and call for help. Teach them to be very descriptive of situations.
  • Apply pressure to a bleeding wound. Stop the bleeding!
  • Ice for swelling
  • Cold running water or a wet towel for a burn
  • Putting a blanket over a person in shock
  • How to put someone in a recovery position

Do family members know CPR?

This can be dangerous to do if not trained, so if your children are a little older, it would be a good idea to have the whole family take a CPR certification class.

Have you discussed what to do in response to a natural disaster?

Depending on where you live, there may be certain natural disasters your family should be aware of such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, and hurricanes. Tailor your natural disaster education to what is necessary for your particular area’s needs.

Do you have cash on hand?

ATMs and card machines won’t work if there is no electricity. Find a way to set aside a few dollars per month until you have a good cash supply on hand in case the power goes out during an emergency.

Do you have a supply of needed medications?

If any family members have medication they must take every day, talk to their doctor about getting an emergency supply you can rotate through in case there comes a time when getting prescriptions filled becomes more difficult.

Do you have a supply of food and water?

It is a good idea to have a supply of food storage and drinkable water (or filter systems for cleaning water) in case of emergency. Be sure to have enough to cover each person in the family.

Do you have a first aid kit?

Keep a first aid kit in a safe location that includes the following items, at a minimum:

  • Dressings and bandages
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Instant cold packs
  • Thermometer
  • Tweezers
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Antibiotic ointment
  • Scissors
  • Non-latex gloves
  • Aspirin
  • Hydrocortisone Packets

By addressing these questions and making the necessary preparations, you can ensure that while your family may not be able to avoid an emergency, they will be as prepared as possible to face it in the safest way possible. This will give you peace of mind and may come in handy on a day when the undesirable happens.

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