Have a Plan to Keep Your Family Safe
Having working smoke detectors in your home is a good start when it comes to protecting your family in an emergency. But in the event of a bad winter storm, accidental fire or flood, or other emergency situation, there are many other things you can do to be well prepared. With families reconnecting and welcoming house guests over the holidays, it’s the perfect time to talk about how different emergency situations could affect everyone in your home.
Map Out An Escape
The American Red Cross recommends that families not only map out an emergency escape plan on paper, but that they have regular practice drills to prepare for a fire, flood or other emergency that would force you to evacuate. Give each family member a responsibility, such as grabbing supplies, rounding up the family pet or assisting young children or elderly relatives. The plan should spell out escape routes from each room, depending on the type of emergency, and designate a neighbor’s house or other area outside where everyone will meet.
During an emergency, some family members might be away from home or local phone lines might not be in operation. Part of your emergency plan should be designating an out-of-town relative or friend as an emergency contact. Have everyone in your family memorize the emergency contact’s phone number and save it in their cell phones to use as a way to “check in” if they are unable to call or text immediate family.
Skills to Learn
Teach children in your home not only how to call 911 and other emergency numbers, but also when it is appropriate to call for help. Adults should learn where the main shut-offs are for your home’s water, gas and electricity and how to shut them down. An easy skill that can prevent an accidental fire from getting out of control is to buy a small fire extinguisher and show family members how to use it.
Supplies to Keep On Hand
A serious snow storm or other local emergency might force you to stay in your home for days, possibly without power. If you keep a basic supply kit stocked and in a designated container, you won’t have to search the house for extra batteries or other emergency items. In addition to three days worth of water and food for each person in the house (don’t forget a manual can opener if you have canned food), supply kit recommendations include a batter powered or solar powered radio for news updates, flashlights, blankets or sleeping bags, personal hygiene items, and a first aid kit. You can also consider investing in a solar powered battery charger for cell phones, and even a portable generator if you need to power medical equipment or other essential devices.
An emergency plan is something you hope you will never need, but could be grateful to have.