Simply put: Does your family know what to do and where to go in the event of a major emergency?
I always prided myself on being an overly prepared person. I loved planners and organizers even as a small child. I would write birthdays in them and holidays. I went through a period of about a year at the age of 18 where I stopped using planners, my life was “Fly by the seat of my pants” and while it was probably one of the most fun years and I made TONS of memories and met lots of people it was the most CHAOTIC, DISORGANIZED year of my life. I ended the year going: “What happened to all my plans? Where did the year go?” I immediately went back to being a prepared person.
You can be the most prepared person in the world but what about your spouse? Your kids? Would they know what to do if you were not herding the cattle, so to speak? This is where emergency evacuation plans come into play. It seems kind of overwhelming at first but take a minute and think. Think about Disaster Movies, School Evacuations, you workplace evacuation plans. They all revolve around the same basic concept and the same system. You just have to take these plans and make them fit your family.
Making a Family Emergency Binder
It’s really simple and cheap actually here is what I use for mine:
I divide mine into sections:
The family information section includes 1-2 pages per family member. The pages depends on the info needed. What do I include on these pages?
Copy of important documents – Birth Cert, Social Security Cards, ID
Medication List – Dosage, When and Why. I also include special medication. I.E. Mama needs to eat with her blood pressure medication.
The key is to include ANY and ALL information someone would need to take care of each family member.
The Pet section is the same as the Family section.
The Household Information Section would include the following:
Location of Fuse Box – Diagram of fuses
Location of Gas Shut Off and Water Shut Off Valves
Landlord/Mortgage Company Information
Copy of important documents – Deed, Lease, etc
Utility Service Information
Include location of exits, windows, layout of home, yard, garage, etc.
Emergency Contacts Section is just what it sounds like. When thinking of disaster scenarios the goal is to have a simple and efficient Emergency Contact System. The best way to do this is to have a designated person IN STATE and and a designated person OUT OF STATE. This contact is the person EVERYONE in your family would call, email, write in the event that you are separated. This contact would have everyone’s information and would be able to relay messages between you. Example:
Your husband is on business out of town with access to airline phones only.
You are shopping with the baby, access to cell phone only.
Your 8 year old is at a friend’s house, phone line goes down, access to internet only.
Your teenager is at band camp, access to pay phone.
A massive earthquake shakes your entire state sending the sate into Emergency Measures. All of you are stuck in your current locations, unable to get to each other. Phone lines in your state (if not everywhere) are going to be tied up. (Think about the phone lines on 9/11, it was hard to get through no matter where you lived.
Given that each of you has access to only one form of communication, none of which are the same. How do you contact each other? How would you know your children and husband were safe? How would they know you are safe?
This is where your out of state contact comes into play. Each of you can contact him/her with your various forms of communication, then he/she lets each of you know that everyone is safe and where everyone is. This person should be the most trusted person in your life because they should also have the information to call your doctor, mortgage company, etc in place of you JUST IN CASE. So you want this to be a person you can trust with your life because essentially you are not only trusting them with your life but also with personal information.
This section should also include ALL important numbers. Don’t forget to include each family member’s cell and email. It’s easy to forget things we use daily in an emergency when nerves are frayed. And I have found that just because I think I know a number, I don’t. In the age of cell phones where we don’t have to remember phone numbers, most of us don’t remember them. I can still remember phone numbers of my best friends in 5th grade but not my husbands. Sad, I know.
Include community numbers: Church, Hospital, Doctor, Jobs anything that might be important to your family.
Evacuation Plan is what your family does int he event of home evacuation. This could occur during a robbery, a fire, a tornado.
This should include:
Meet-up Location 1-2 blocks (store, neighbors house, etc)
Meet-up Location within 5 mile radius
Meet-up Location in case everyone is not home together but a town evacuation is neccessary. Where will everyone meet if they can not meet at home?
Keep it simple but you need to think of different scenarios, access to roads, what would your town do in the event of evacuation?
What each family members task is before leaving (Dad makes sure kids are in car, son makes sure pets are secure, mom performs head count, etc)
What is on the Take With You List (we will cover Bugging Out/Taking With You next week)
This should also include what to do in different scenarios: Tornado, Earthquake, Terrorist Attack, Zombies, etc. And what you plan to do in each scenario that you are worried about. Start with scenarios that will logically happen in your area. Live in LA? Start with earthquakes. Live in Tornado Alley? Start with Tornadoes. Then work your way on to each event that may happen or you want to prepare for.
Lastly is the phone tree. This is mostly for people who have made themselves part of a community. (We will cover this later) and this works just as it would in a church or school. But instead of 1 person being able to activate the phone tree. The Head of each Household would be able to activate. Each family in the community is in charge of contacting the next family.
The Smith’s activate the tree due a nuclear reactor leak. They call The Martins. The Martins call The Baxters and so on. The point is that each family has an assigned family but in case The Martins are unreachable the Smiths would call the Baxters.
We will talk more about Community Plans in a later post.
I hope this is a good start for everyone. I didn’t want to overwhelm everyone with tons of details in the first post, but in a later post I will add more family specific items. This is just a bare bones basic Evacuation Binder.
The goal is to have ALL important information easy to transport and easily accessible. This includes it being easy to use for your babysitter and kids. You never know when they might be put in a situation to need it.