No one likes to think about it, but being prepared for a disaster – whether natural or man made – is an essential part of taking care of your family. You don’t need to think about it and worry about it every single day, but you should definitely have an emergency plan in place, share it with your family, and review it together once a year.
These are the three basic steps you’ll need to take to make sure your family is prepared for an emergency:
1. Prepare an emergency kit.
If emergency strikes, you may have to survive on your own for a few days. Obviously, the most important item in your emergency kit is water. You need one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation. A bare-minimum emergency kit will also include a three-day supply of non-perishable food and a well-stocked first aid kit.
2. Prepare a family emergency plan.
Identify an out-of town contact and make sure every member of your family knows their phone number. During a local emergency it may be easier to communicate through an out-of-town contact. You should also teach all family members how to use text messaging, since text messages can often get through even when a phone call can’t. Ideally, each family member over the age of ten should have an emergency cell phone.
The next step is to create a plan for where to meet in case of an emergency. You should probably have two plans in place – one for a scenario where you can all reunite at home, and one for a scenario where you have to evacuate your home and meet someplace else.
3. Review the plan once a year and update as necessary.
Kids grow. Circumstances change. Review the plan once a year to make sure it still applies and that everyone remembers your emergency contact’s phone number and your meeting place.
I live in Northern California, where the constant threat of a major earthquake means we take emergency preparedness very seriously. Sadly, these days man-made disasters are a very real possibility too, which means everyone, regardless of their location, should be prepared.