Have a family disaster plan
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - It’s human nature. We hear about fires, floods, chemical spill evacuations, and other disasters and we think – or hope– it will never happen to us.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve probably asked yourself some private questions: Where will your family be if disaster strikes? Will you be together or separated – at home, at work, at school, or in the car? What do you do if basic services – water, gas, electricity, telephones – are cut off?
The National Weather Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the American Red Cross urge every family to develop a family disaster plan.
Know The Area
If you’re new to an area, get to know the major highways and roads which may be used for an evacuation. Unless you move to a hurricane area (obviously not in Wisconsin), evacuation routes probably are not clearly marked. Contact your local National Weather Service office, emergency management office and American Red Cross chapter about what types of disasters could occur in your area and how you should respond.
Meet With Your Family
Discuss the information you’ve gathered. Discuss what you would do if advised to evacuate.
Pick two places to meet: A spot outside your home, such as in case of fire; and a place away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home, such as a friend (not a neighbor), workplace, school or church.
Choose an out-of-state or out-of-area relative as an emergency contact for everyone to call if members of the family gets separated. Make sure everyone knows the phone number.
Turn Your Plan Into Action
Keep emergency telephone numbers in an obvious, easy-to-find place. Carry a copy in your wallet or purse. Teach children how and when to use 911 or your local emergency numbers.
Install safety features in your house, including at least one smoke detector on every floor, fire extinguishers, and a carbon monoxide (CO) detector. Purchase a weather radio. Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days (see information below about making a disaster supplies kit).
Keep important family documents in a waterproof container -- including birth certificates, passports, mortgage papers, deed, bank information. Make copies to keep at home and store the originals in a secure place, such as a sealed safe or bank safe deposit box.
Learn basic safety measures, including how to use a fire extinguisher, and how and when to turn off water, gas, and electricity in your home. Ask your American Red Cross, YMCA, or YWCA about lessons for CPR and first aid.
Provide your emergency contact’s phone number with other relatives, your employer, and insurance agent so they can find you.
Review your homeowners insurance policy.
Take photos of your most valuable possessions. Save photos with an online storage site (the “cloud”) or print copies. Make an itemized list of other possessions -- including clothing, small kitchen appliances, the “good plates and silverware,” video games, books, etc. The more comprehensive the list, the better it will be for insurance. Save and safely store receipts of expensive household items, such as major appliances, TVs computer.
Practice and Maintain Your Plan
Quiz family members to make sure they remember the designated meeting places, phone numbers, family contact, and safety rules.
Test your smoke detectors monthly and change the batteries twice a year. Replace stored food and water twice a year.
How to Make a Disaster Supplies Kit
Store these supplies in sturdy, easy-to-carry and ready-to-go containers, such as backpacks or duffle bags:
- A 3-day supply of non-perishable food and water (one gallon per person per day). Remember pet food if you have pets.
- One change of clothing and footwear per person
- One blanket or sleeping bag per person
- First Aid kit, including prescription medicines or at least an up-to-date list of medicines
- Emergency tools
- Battery-powered weather radio, portable radio, flashlight, and plenty of extra batteries
- Phone charging cables and a portable charger (”power bank”), charged
- Extra set of car keys, credit card, and cash
- Special items for infant, elderly, or disabled family members
Keep a smaller disaster supplies kit in the trunk of your car. Obviously this would not include keys, credit card, cash, or prescription medicine. It could include a blanket, change of clothing, water bottle and a portable charger.
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