There's nothing like an emergency to reveal how prepared - or unprepared - you are for situations beyond your control. September is National Preparedness Month, and the Home Safety Council (HSC) is urging families to have plans, contact information and supplies in place for emergencies, such as floods, major storms, fires or other disasters.
The HSC recommends that all families have a communication plan in case of an emergency that separates family members. Write down the following information on individual cards and give one to each member of your family to keep with them:
- Places both in and outside of your community where your family can meet;
- Phone numbers of people in your community that you can contact in an emergency; and
- An address and phone number of an out-of-town friend or relative.
Be Ready to Go
Keep two sets of emergency supplies ready: one of things you'll need if you have to stay in your house, and another of things you'll need if you have to leave home.
HSC and others recommend keeping the following "Ready-to-Go Kit" items in a backpack or duffel bag in case you're forced out of your home:
- One gallon of water per person
- Food that doesn't have to be refrigerated
- A manual can opener
- Plastic/paper plates, cups and silverware
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- Battery-operated radio
- A change of clothes
- A card with your contact information and the number of someone out of state to call
- Pet food and supplies for one or more days (if you have pets)
- Small first-aid kit
- Personal hygiene items, soap and hand sanitizer
- Needed medications (store these near your Ready-to-Go Kit so you can access them quickly)
- A list of other things to grab that you use every day, such as your cell phone, wallet, eyeglasses, etc.
Be Ready to Hunker Down
If an emergency forces your family to remain at home, or be confined to a portion of your home, for a lengthy period of time, keep the following "Ready-to-Stay Kit" supplies in a plastic tub or special cabinet:
- Three gallons of water for each family member (note the expiration dates on purchased containers of water)
- Canned food and snacks for at least three days
- Manual can opener
- First-aid kit
- Medicine you routinely take
- Toilet paper
- Clothes for each family member
- Books and games to keep you busy
- Paper and pencils
- Pet food and supplies for three days
- Unscented bleach
Talking to Your Kids
HSC recommends that you talk with your children about the different kinds of weather or other emergencies that could affect your community. Reassure them that you or another adult, such as a firefighter, police officer, neighbor or physician, will be there to help them in an emergency. And put a list of emergency numbers, and the work and cell phone numbers of family members, by each telephone in your house.
For more information on emergency preparedness, visit the HSC Web site. You can order a free home safety education program, which comes with an activity book and worksheets on emergency preparedness in English and Spanish.