Making a Family Emergency Preparedness Plan

There are countless emergencies and natural disasters that can occur without warning. These range from disasters such as snowstorms that may keep families inside of a home without power for days or disasters such as hurricanes or flooding that will create the need for a family to evacuate their home. In all emergency situations a family must be prepared with a shared evacuation plan. In an emergency plan it is crucial that everyone understands the plan and their own responsibilities including the elderly and children. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has a great program for teaching children the necessities of these plans with the help of the Sesame Street gang. The family plan should be revisited often to ensure that the responsibilities are developed or lessened with the changing abilities of children and the elderly.Every family member should be aware of where the emergency survival gear and food storage is located inside of the home. Also, a flashlight should be kept in all bedrooms for each individual family member. Even young children should be aware of how to use emergency survival gear in case adults are injured during a disaster. During disasters, homes are often evacuated. An evacuation safety plan should be created and family members, neighbors and school administration should be notified. A family communication emergency preparedness plan worksheet should be in every car and in every child’s backpack. These worksheets need to include out of town contact names, evacuation location plans, social security numbers, medical information and all contact information for immediate family members and emergency contacts. Community emergency plans are important as well. These can be integrated with the family emergency plan. Stay at home parents can assist neighbor children who may have working parents when a neighborhood becomes inaccessible. A specific route for children to come home from school if an emergency occurs is very important for parents who may be looking for their children as well. The Red Cross and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security are constantly updating information regarding preparedness for families. They are both great resources for learning how to update and improve your family and community emergency plans. —Breanna Legler—

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