Did you know that today is National PrepareAthon! Day? Your family may not be together if disaster strikes so it is important to think about how you are going to prepare for such an event.
- Do you know how your family will get in touch with each other if your cell phone, the internet or the landline doesn’t work?
- Have you talked about how you and your family will get to a safe location or meeting place after an emergency?
- Do you even have a meeting place?
Emergencies come in many forms – from house fires to accidents to tropical storms and hurricanes. We cannot always control how, when or where they occur, be we can prepare practical responses before disasters strike. First and foremost, think about how you will communicate in different situations and start by making an emergency communications plan.
Here are a few easy steps to start your emergency communication plan:
- Understand how to receive emergency alerts and warnings. Make sure all household members are able to get alerts from local officials. Check with your local emergency management agency to see what is available in your area. Here in Vermont, we have the Vermont Alert Network at www.vtalert.gov.
- Discuss with your family your plan for a disaster that may affect your area. Plan in advance so that everyone understands where to go during a different type of disaster such as tornado, hurricane or wildfire.
- Collect everyone’s information. Create a paper copy for each family member that includes all phone numbers, email, social media, medical facilities, doctors, service providers and school information.
- Pick an emergency meeting place. Things to consider:
- Decide on a safe, familiar place where your family can go for protection or to reunite.
- Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities and functional needs.
- If you have pets or service animals, think about animal-friendly locations.
Examples of meeting places include:
- In your neighborhood: A mailbox at the end of the driveway or a neighbor’s house.
- Outside your neighborhood: Library, community center, place of worship or family friend’s home.
- Outside your town: home of a relative or family friend. Make sure everyone knows the address and discuss ways you would get there.
- Share the information. Make sure everyone carries a copy in his or her backpack, purse, wallet or briefcase. Also post a copy in a central location in your home, such as on a refrigerator or family bulletin board.
- Practice your plan. Have regular household meetings to review your emergency plans, communications plans and meeting place after a disaster, and then practice, just like you would a fire drill. It is recommended to practice your plan at least twice per year, often done at the same time as adjusting your clocks for daylight savings. This is also a great time to replace the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Think Spring Ahead Fall Back! for emergency preparedness, too!
Planning how to stay safe and communicate during a disaster is the first step in emergency preparedness for your family. Your emergency planning should also address care of pets, aiding family members with access and functional needs and safely shutting off utilities. You may also want to inquire about emergency plans at work, daycare and school.
Visit www.ready.gov for all of the information in this post as well as additional checklists on how you and your family can prepare for the unexpected.