If a disaster were to strike your home, would you be ready for it?
All too often, people are woefully unprepared for inclement situations, whether it’s a power outage or something far more devastating.
No matter where you live, disaster can strike any time. (find more resources here – https://survivalistgear.co/)
Therefore, it’s crucial you and your family are prepared so you can stay safe, recover quickly, and know exactly what to do in the event of a calamity.
Today we’re going to discuss how you can create a comprehensive disaster plan for yourself, your family, and your home.
Bonus: Click here to download our free Emergency Preparedness Checklist.
Table of Contents
- 1 PART ONE: DEVELOPING AN EMERGENCY PLAN OF ACTION
- 2 Assess Everyone’s Needs
- 3 Emergency Disaster Planning: in a Four-Step Plan
- 4 1. Discuss Different Scenarios
- 5 Details: Talk to Your Family
- 6 2. Identify Potential Problems
- 7 3. Consider Every Emergency Situation
- 8 4. Practice Your Emergency Plans
- 9 ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A DISASTER PLAN
- 10 Common Scenarios
- 10.1 Home Strategy: Plan For Where You Live
- 10.2 Personal Safety: Have a Contingency Plan If You Are Separated
- 10.3 Have an Emergency Plan For Everyone In Your Home
- 10.4 Plan For A Way To Let People Know You are Safe
- 10.5 Plan For an Emergency Food Supply
- 10.6 Plan For Emergency Gear & Supplies
- 10.7 Plan An Emergency Escape Route
- 11 PART TWO: PRACTICE YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN
- 12 WHAT TO DO IN DISASTER SITUATIONS
- 13 PART THREE: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TIPS
- 14 CONCLUSION:
PART ONE: DEVELOPING AN EMERGENCY PLAN OF ACTION
Before you can start worrying about details and logistics about what to do when something happens, take the time to work them out and write them down.
We’ll be going over the basic elements of any disaster plan to help with this process.
It’s important to note that, even if you feel like you have everything down to a T, disasters can still feel overwhelming, making it all the more crucial to plan ahead.
Assess Everyone’s Needs
Making sure that you know what to do and how to stay safe during a disaster is one thing, but what about the rest of your family?
Do you have little kids that need extra supplies like diapers and clothing?
Does anyone in your family have special needs that will require extra care and attention when trying to make it through a disaster?
When formulating various plans of action, you will want to make sure that everyone in your family can follow the procedures you lay out.
Just because you can do it doesn’t mean that they can – and your plan could fail when it’s needed most.
So, no matter the situation, have a plan ready to go for all household members before a disaster occurs.
Prepare Your Pets for Disaster
Make sure and consider any pets you may have. If you have to seek refuge elsewhere, are you able to take your animals with you?
How can you be sure that they are safe during the disaster? What will they eat or drink?
Pets are a part of your family too, so don’t ignore their needs.
Emergency Disaster Planning: in a Four-Step Plan
While there are a lot of steps you can follow to help create your disaster plan, there are three steps that form the basis for your plan.
The idea is to have a solid understanding of your disaster plan as you create it.
1. Discuss Different Scenarios
Schedule a time with every member of your family where you can all sit down and talk about what might happen in the event of a disaster.
Identify which types of disasters are most likely to occur based on the geographic area where you live and work.
Once you identify what might happen, have an honest discussion about how to prepare and respond for each type of disaster.
Details: Talk to Your Family
When coming up with various solutions for staying safe during a disaster, you have to involve your family in the details. While it can seem a little distressing to talk to your spouse or kids about what to do if they are in mortal danger, the fact is that doing so could save their lives.
How are your kids going to know what to grab if you don’t discuss it beforehand? How can you set a rendezvous point if no one knows where it is? While you can probably avoid telling your toddlers about what’s happening (since they will likely be with you anyway), you should talk to your kids about what to do, especially if you’re not around or you’re otherwise incapacitated.
When discussing your disaster strategy with your family, get their input as well. You may not have considered every facet of what to do, and having them participate will make sure that everyone is on board and understands what to do if and when something happens.
During this discussion, you can also assign roles. In disaster situations, it’s best if everyone is working together so don’t assume that you have to take care of everything. For example, one child could be responsible for grabbing food, while another handles flashlights and batteries. Splitting up duties can also ensure that nothing is forgotten and that you can make it out with all the supplies you need in time.
2. Identify Potential Problems
Now that you are aware of all of the different disasters you should plan for, begin to identify responsibilities for each member of your family during a disaster.
Everybody in your family should have something to do during a disaster.
Most importantly, know how to work together as a team to effectively handle the disaster if one actually happens.
3. Consider Every Emergency Situation
If you live in a part of the country where natural disasters happen with some frequency, it’s easy to make a plan for that specific occasion. Living in Tornado Alley, for example, means that you probably already know what to do when a twister touches down nearby.
But what if there’s a fire in your home? What happens if a pipe bursts and there’s water flooding the ground floor? What about an earthquake?
Each situation will have different needs, so it’s imperative that you consider all of them when formulating your plan.
The other side of this is to make backup plans just in case. For example, if part of your evacuation route is blocked off, then how can you get everyone to safety? What happens if you can’t grab your emergency kit in time?
The best thing to do is to start from a worst-case scenario and work your way up. Ideally, you won’t have to experience anything too devastating, but it’s better to prepare for it than to be blindsided when it occurs.
4. Practice Your Emergency Plans
Once you discuss disasters and identify roles, it’s time to practice as many of the different elements of your plan as possible.
While there are particular parts of the plan you won’t be able to practice, rehearsing as many plans as possible can help make a big difference when it comes time to handle the real thing.
ESSENTIAL ELEMENTS OF A DISASTER PLAN
While your needs will vary, it helps to understand the basics of what should be included in your strategy. If you’ve never done this before, it can feel a little overwhelming, especially when you consider the fact that it involves the people closest to you. Here are the fundamentals that you should have in your plan.
Emergency Evacuation Route
When talking about evacuations, you want to strategize ways to get out of the house as well as methods for getting out of the area if necessary. You may have to leave the neighborhood quickly, so it’s critical that you know where to go and how to get there without getting stuck.
As always, consider every possibility. If you live in a multi-story house, what happens if the bottom floor is inaccessible? How will you be able to get out? What if the primary doorways are blocked? Think about any conceivable situation and make sure that everyone knows what to do.
With each step, you want to create a plan A, B, and C if necessary. This way, it’s easier to remember what to do when you’re in the situation.
The other component of an evacuation route is to set a rendezvous point. This is critical because it ensures that everyone will stick together in a disaster, rather than spreading out, trying to find one another. If you are all trained to meet at a particular location (i.e., the tree out back), no one should get lost. From there, if you have to evacuate the area, at least you are all together.
Emergency Preparedness Kit
You will either want to build a kit beforehand or keep supplies at the ready to be gathered when disaster strikes. Some common components to include in a kit are:
First Aid Supplies (bandages, gauze, antiseptic wipes, etc.)
Flashlight With Extra Batteries
When it comes to food and water, ideally you will pack enough for everyone in your family to last for at least three days. Consider that you will probably go through about a gallon of water per day per person, for both drinking and sanitation.
While canned food is excellent for long-term solutions, it can be better to stock ready to eat meals instead. Most canned goods have to be prepared or cooked, so you might prefer to have something a bit more palatable.
If you do create your kit ahead of time, then be sure to check it every few months and rotate supplies that expire. Also, take batteries out of flashlights and radios so that you don’t have to worry about a dead battery when using them.
When disaster strikes, you should know who to contact. You should have numbers for local services, as well as any other family or friends in the area who could help you. For example, if you experience a house fire, then you will want to be able to set up a place to stay while your home is rebuilt.
These contacts should be written down and kept in your emergency kit. The other side of this is that you should notify anyone on the list that they are listed as your contact, so they are aware in case something does happen. Doing this will ensure that he or she will be ready for you when the time comes.
When it comes to creating your full disaster plan, there are certain things you need to keep in mind as you create the plan.
Examine some of the top scenarios to remember when you make your disaster plan.
Home Strategy: Plan For Where You Live
All of your disaster plans should be based on the area where you live.
That’s because different geographical areas have various kinds of natural disasters.
For example, you might have to worry about tornadoes in the Midwest, earthquakes on the West coast, and hurricanes in the South.
Take into account whatever concerns you have for your particular area, but then narrow that scope based on your home’s location.
Unfortunately, the response for each type of disaster is going to be different.
Create a plan for each one and give each disaster your full attention.
Remember, it is always better to over plan than to under plan.
If you happen to live in a forest or wooded area, you might need to include a plan for a wildfire.
Or, you may need to include a plan for flooding if you live near a lake or river.
Personal Safety: Have a Contingency Plan If You Are Separated
In a perfect world, when a disaster strikes all of your family will be together in one place and you can execute the disaster plan as you have practiced time and time again.
However, this is far from what may happen in reality.
Chances are good that you and your family will become separated from one another and you’ll have to go to plan B to try and help each other out while getting to safety.
For example, one of you might be at work while another family member is at the grocery store when a disaster strikes.
When you create a disaster plan, come up with a couple different scenarios.
Your first scenario should involve a situation where everyone is together and can work together.
Your second scenario should be a plan where only one or two people are together or everyone is alone on their own.
It might seem unnecessary time and effort, but it may be a lifesaver for you and your family.
Have an Emergency Plan For Everyone In Your Home
Every single person in your family should have a plan where they know what to do each step of the way.
Create information packets for every family member so they remember what they need to do and can look back on it at anytime.
Plan For A Way To Let People Know You are Safe
When disaster first happens, there is nothing more important than getting you and your family to safety.
Your plan should outline everything to do to keep your family safe for as long as you can and include a list of emergency contacts everyone can access.
However, once you have taken care of that, everyone needs to know who is safe and who they need to look for.
If your family, and others, know you are safe, they can redirect their efforts to other individuals that may require assistance.
Additionally, you’re going to find that family and friends will worry about you if they know you are in danger.
Let them know you’re okay so they don’t need to worry.
Plan For an Emergency Food Supply
This is one of the most overlooked parts of any disaster plan.
It’s crucial that you have enough food and water for all members of your family in case of a disaster.
Fortunately, this is pretty easy to do now because of so many different food options that have an incredibly long shelf life.
Purchase emergency food that is U.S. Coast Guard approved and make sure you review expiration dates yearly.
Once you figure out what food you want to buy and how you are going to store your water, begin to plan out how much food and water you’ll need on hand.
If you plan for the bare minimum, keep around 1,500 calories of food and 2 liters of water in stock per person per day and have enough for 72 hours.
If you want to be prepared for all types of situations, keep enough food and water to last a week so you know you have more than enough supplies.
Plan For Emergency Gear & Supplies
Make a list of all the necessary gear you’ll want to have on hand at all times.
If you don’t already have a disaster kit, go out and purchase or make one that contains all the gear and supplies you’ll need.
Your kit should include things like: waterproof matches, rope, knives, first aid supplies, flashlights, candles and food.
Plan An Emergency Escape Route
Create an escape route for you and your family.
In the event of a fire, natural disaster, or some other event, your family should have a plan to escape the house safely.
Everyone should know how to reach each of the exits of the house.
You never know what options might be available to you and which ones might be taken away.
Once you have your routes planned out, practice them on a regular basis so that every family member has a firm understanding of how to get out of the house.
PART TWO: PRACTICE YOUR EMERGENCY PLAN
While talking about what to do in a disaster is helpful, it’s much different than experiencing the real thing. When something does happen, it can be easy to forget what to do and how to act, especially if it’s been a long time since you talked about it.
Thus, the best thing you can do is practice various elements of your emergency plan to make sure that everyone stays sharp. While you don’t have to do this often, it’s best to practice on a yearly basis at least. Remind every one of your rendezvous point, and practice gathering supplies or evacuating the house.
Overall, just make sure that everyone in your family is kept up-to-date on your disaster plan. Also, be sure to update it as necessary so that it’s always ready to go. For example, if you have to change your evacuation route or remove a contact from your list, do so as soon as possible so that you aren’t left holding the bag if something does happen.
WHAT TO DO IN DISASTER SITUATIONS
Depending on the severity of the blaze, you may be able to extinguish it before it gets out of control. You should have some kind of fire extinguisher on the premises that’s ready to go and easy to access. Usually, fires will generate in the kitchen, so that’s a good place for it.
If, however, you’re unable to put the fire out, then you want to follow these steps for safety:
Stay Low – avoid breathing in smoke and other chemicals in the air.
Check Door Handles – if it’s warm or hot, don’t go in.
Evacuate Quickly – depending on the situation, it’s best to get out fast, rather than check on others.
Call 911 – make sure that you get first responders to you as quickly as possible.
For the most part, don’t try to save anything in a house fire. While it may be tempting to grab belongings, you don’t want to get stuck in a dangerous situation because you took too long to get outside. Fire can spread really fast, so don’t assume that you have plenty of time to get everything.
Once you’ve reached your rendezvous point, check to see if everyone is there. If not, then you can try to find out where the others are and if they are accessible. The reason you don’t want to do this at first is that you may put yourself in unnecessary danger. If your family knows where to do and how to evacuate, searching for them will only waste valuable time. Trust that they will get outside and then double check once you’re safe.
During the quake, you want to make sure that you’re in a safe place. If possible, evacuate the building quickly so that you don’t have to worry about falling debris inside.
Like in a fire, don’t try to grab anything or search for anyone while the earthquake is happening. As the ground is moving, it’s too dangerous to try and do anything but stay protected. If you can’t make it outside, hide under a sturdy table or go a reinforced part of the house.
Once the quake is over, you can start to assess the damage. If your home is wrecked, then you don’t want to go back inside if possible. Structural damage can cause collapse, and you don’t want to be in there if and when that happens.
If you can’t go back into the house, then consider where you can stay. This is where having emergency contacts will come in handy.
Hurricane or Tornado
Ideally, you will have some warning before these things strike, which will give you time to prepare. You will hopefully have a reinforced part of your home in which to ride out the storm so that you can stay safe until it’s over.
During the storm, don’t move around if you don’t have to. Stay together and ride it out. Worry about damage assessments later.
Keep all of your supplies handy. A great way to save time would be to keep an emergency kit in your bunker or basement (or wherever you’ll be during the storm).
Listen for alerts afterward. Just because you don’t hear anything doesn’t mean that it’s safe to go outside. Keep a radio handy and pay attention for any alerts. Once you get an all clear, then you can worry about leaving your safe zone.
PART THREE: DISASTER PREPAREDNESS TIPS
Here are some other things to consider when making your disaster plan:
Talk to Your Insurance Agent
You will want to make sure that you have sufficient coverage for any disaster. Don’t assume that you’re covered for everything, as many policies don’t.
Learn How to Build an Emergency Fire
If you are stuck somewhere waiting for emergency services to arrive, you want to be sure that you can stay warm. Learn how to build and light a fire from scratch. If possible, keep safe but flammable materials in your emergency kit.
Keep Important Documents Secure
Certain documents like birth certificates and passports can be helpful to have during a disaster. Keep them in a fireproof safe so that they don’t get damaged or destroyed.
Create Bug Out Bags for Everyone
Having one kit is okay for most situations, but if you have to worry about long-term planning, then a go bag for each person in your family is a good idea. The pack should include things like extra clothes, toiletries, and other essentials. If you can’t return to your home for days or weeks, this bag will be a blessing.
A lot of careful thought and consideration goes into creating a disaster plan and practicing all the facets of your plan is key to successfully dealing with any type of scenario.
Don’t wait until disaster strikes to find out how prepared you are. Get ready now, and you’ll be able to handle anything that life throws your way.
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