Emergency situations–such as hurricanes, fires, tornados, and other natural or manmade disasters– can cause anxiety and fear for almost anyone but being proactive about safety can not only put your mind at ease but may save lives when/if disaster strikes. Every September we celebrate National Preparedness Month by taking charge of our safety. Make sure you and your family are prepared by checking off each item on our most important to-do list:
Learn about the disasters that are most likely to strike your region. If you live in California, consider preparing for a forest fire. If you live in Colorado think about winter snow storms. For those of you along the east coast, be sure to read about hurricane safety.
Find the places in your home or community where you would go during an emergency situation. During hurricanes, stay away from basements and opt instead for community shelters at local schools. For tornados, seek shelters that are below ground and well protected, such as a room in the basement.
Find multiple escape routes from different rooms in your home. If an emergency such as a fire occurs, then you will need to leave your home in a hurry. Map out the best exit routes today so there is no need to worry tomorrow.
Test your smoke detectors and make sure the whole family knows where the fire extinguisher is located.
Make sure your children know when it is appropriate to call 911 and how to do so if needed.
Create an emergency kit. Be sure to include Band-Aids, batteries, medications, a manual can opener, a flashlight, a map of the area, and copies of important documents.
Consider the unique needs of each member in your household. Don’t forget that infants, pets, and the elderly will have special medication and dietary concerns. Ensure that you have plenty of infant formula, pet food, and medication in your home if a disaster is anticipated.
Make a plan for how to reach family members. If a disaster were to occur while you are separated, you may benefit from having an out-of-state contact. Phone lines can quickly jam when a disaster occurs, leaving many people unable to make a local call. Another great idea is to decide on a convenient and safe meeting place for family members—remember that you may not have access to phones or email in the moment and will need a plan to locate and find each other.
By preparing in advance, you and your family will be ready for any emergency situation. To learn more about Disaster Preparedness Month, please visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.