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Sometimes it is the simplest things that are overlooked. Case in point? The Family Emergency Plan.
Here we are, so diligently putting away food, storing water and purchasing gear when perhaps one of the most important aspects of emergency and crisis planning has to do with having a plan to get in touch with family members and loved ones after disaster strikes. Equally important is having a plan for meeting up at a safe location as well an evacuation plan for getting there.
Whew! Sounds like a lot of work pulling this all together. But it does not have to be difficult. Below you will find ten easy steps for creating a family emergency plan as well as on online tool to get you started. Don’t worry, this is going to be easy.
THE FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN
1. Sit down with your family members and decide how you will get in contact with each other in an emergency. Possible methods may be by cell phone, texting, email, or a standard land line.
2. Once you figure this out, document the contact information on both a master sheet and on wallet sized cards to be carried by all family members. This document will become your “Family Communication Plan” and it will form the cornerstone of your family emergency plan. It will list all family members, their date of birth, and other important information. Include a photo for each person as well as any important medical information. Also include a contact number for an out of town contact person.
3. Determine a meeting place where you will meet in the event you can not get home. This may be your workplace, the home of a parent or relative, your church or even at a school if there are children involved. Whatever you decide, you will need at least three possible locations:
- Your home or the home of a designated family member
- A safe meeting place near home
- A safe meeting place outside your immediate neighborhood
4. Determine the best evacuation routes from your home or workplace to the safe meeting places. Go to Google Maps or some other online tool and create maps showing your evacuation route along with printed directions. Then take the route and make sure it is accurate and that you understand the directions. This is important! You must drill and practice your evacuation procedure.
5. Prepare a list of all workplaces along with the address, telephone number, and closest evacuation location in the event getting to the pre-designated meeting place is not possible.
6. Also prepare a list of all schools that are attended by your children along with the address, contact names, and telephone numbers. Contact the schools now to learn about their own emergency evaluation policies and procedures.
Important Note: In many areas, the State, County or City emergency evacuation plan takes precedence over any school preparedness plan. When it comes to evacuation routes, check with your local county or city preparedness office or call and find out what their plans are since THEY will be the ones determining which roads are used as evacuation routes and which will not.
7. Prepare a list of your doctors and your veterinarian along with their telephone numbers.
8. Prepare a list of your insurance policies, including the carrier, the telephone number for claims, and the policy number itself. Include health insurance, homeowners or rental insurance, life insurance policies.
9. Consider creating a phone tree. Think of your phone tree as a pyramid where the person at the top of the pyramid contacts two people, who each call two more people, and so on, until every person on the tree has been contacted. This will allow you to distribute information quickly without redundancy and without placing the burden of work on one person.
Important Note: Be aware, however, that phone lines and cell service may not be functional following a catastrophic disaster. Although a valuable tool, do not count on your phone tree to be the sole mode of communication following a disaster. If you text, you might want to consider a “texting tree”. Texting is usually available even when cell service is down.
10. Store all of the information you have carefully compiled in multiple locations:
- Your bug out bags and go-bags
- Your family preparedness binder
- On a flash drive that you carry with you
- In your desk drawer at work
- In an email attachment sent to yourself at one of the cloud based email services such as Gmail, Yahoo and Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail)
THE FINAL WORD
One easy way to get started is to go to the Ready.gov website where you can fill out much of this information online. You can then print out the online document and add the supplemental information on your own. You will find the fill-in form here: Family Emergency Plan Fill-In Form.
Whatever you do, do not fall prey to rip-off artists who will want to charge your hundreds, if not thousands of dollars to prepare a Family Emergency Plan for you. Unless you are independently wealthy, you can do it yourself over the course of one weekend. (Be sure to read my article, The Black Umbrella Rip Off to give you an idea of the sneaky ways folks will try to coax you out of your money.)
Then don’t forget to practice your evacuation plan and to test your escape routes. Your safety – and your life – may depend on it.
Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!
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Bargain Bin: Today I share some foundation items for your emergency kit. Sure, you still need to add food, water personal care items and a whole lot more. But these basics will get you started.
Kaito Voyager 5-Way Powered Emergency AM/FM/SW Weather Alert Radio: This one has it all and a very reasonable price given its features. It will operate from any one of four different power sources including hand crank and solar and includes a radio, lantern, cell phone charger and more. It can be used with 3 AA batteries or an optional AC adapter. It is perfect for receiving NOA alerts and the LED flashlight on its side turns into a flashing red SOS for emergencies. There is even a USB port for charging a cell phone. A good alternative is the Etón American Red Cross Self-Powered Radio with Flashlight, Solar Power and Cell Phone Charger.
Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing. The Kershaw Volt II Pocket Knife is another moderately priced alternative.
Rothco Type III Commercial Paracord: You can get 100 feet of Paracord for under $10. This is a real bargain but be aware that price can vary substantially depending on the color. See 44 Really Cool Uses of Paracord for Survival.
Potable Aqua Water Treatment Tablets: Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets make questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink. Easy to use and the water is ready to drink in 30 minutes. One 50 tablet bottle treats 25 quarts of water.
Flash Drive: I cannot over emphasize the importance of having important documents on a flash drive. Sure, the power may be out temporarily but for the nominal price and virtually no weight, it is silly not to carry all of your documents and survival reference guides on a flash drive.
Coleman Rugged Battery Powered Lantern: This sturdy Coleman has a runtime of up to 28 hours on the low setting and 18 hours on the high setting but does require D cell batteries. Personally, I have both a battery operated and propane lantern. Of course by now you know that I like redundancy with my preps.
BIC Disposable Classic Lighter With Child Guard: This six pack of Bic lighters is reasonably priced but check around since these often go on sale locally. BICs just work – every time.
Swedish Firesteel: Using this basic pocket fire-starter, you can get a nice fire going under almost any conditions. This is a small, compact version.
Pepper Spray: It is always good to have some form of defense that will temporarily halt a bad guy that is in your face.
Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets: These come in compressed packets small enough to fit in a pocket or wallet. You will be surprised at how warm these will keep you. $8 or less for a pack of 10.
GI P38 & P51 Can Opener Combo Pack (Made in the USA): This is one of the army’s greatest tools. Can be used for dozens of jobs. Makes a great can opener, cutting edge, groove cleaner, screw drive, clean finger nails, open seams and many, many more practical uses. Now you can have one of each size – at the time of this writing $1.25 for both.
Although I have plenty of flashlights and batteries (you might even say I have a flashlight fetish) I also stay stocked up with a dozen of these Clear Mist 100 Hour Plus Emergency Candles as well. For the best deal, purchase a dozen at a time to get a discounted price.
Speaking of which, Emergency Essentials is having some great sales this month on many of your favorites.
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