Family Preparedness for Disaster
Today, more people live in disaster prone areas. One way of looking at the increase in disasters is to examine the presidential declared disasters and their cost. The years 1986-1990 and 1991-1995 show an increase of 40 percent in the number of disasters and 244 percent increase in the cost of those disasters.
Disaster relief organizations and local, state, and federal governments all ask families to be prepared to survive for three days on their own. In many cases it takes three days or longer for the development and institution of a coordinated response from outside the community.
Developing a Family Disaster Plan
Share your family disaster plan with your friends and neighbors. It may challenge them to develop a family disaster plan of their own. Sharing your family’s disaster plan will also give you and your friends or neighbors an opportunity to develop plans together.
Train Your Family
Training is an important part of your family disaster plan. Training gives family members confidence and experience. The stress of a disaster situation is not the time to try to figure out how to do something or use a piece of equipment from your family disaster supply kit.
Invest time in discussing your family disaster plan and supply kit. Seek opportunities to have your family trained in disaster relief by organizations that perform disaster relief.
The American Red Cross, in most areas of each state, has local chapters responsible for disaster relief and first aid training. Your local American Red Cross chapter will provide information about training events.
The American Red Cross provides training in the following areas: disaster services, first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), mass care, and sheltering.
Many local, city, county, or state emergency management agencies, can provide training for disasters common to their area. Using emergency management will provide knowledge for your family’s expectations about local or state government during disasters.
Your family disaster plan training should also include how to use the equipment in your family disaster supply kit.
Should a catastrophic event occur in your community, city, or even county, your family members may not be able to communicate with each other. However, texting usually works.
Someone in your family, church, or neighborhood should consider becoming a ham radio operator.
Developing Your Family Disaster Supply Kit
Water. Your family disaster supply kit should include one gallon of water a day for each person for at least three days.
Canned foods. Your family disaster supply kit should include canned foods for three to seven days. Canned meats, fruits, vegetables, juices, soup, and milk are examples of the type of canned foods to be included in your disaster supply kit.
Staples such as salt, pepper, and sugar, as well as high-energy – items such as peanut butter, jelly, crackers, granola bars, and trail mix – should be included. These will help sustain your family during an emergency.
Comfort foods. You should include foods like cookies, hard candy, sweetened cereals, lollipops, instant coffee, and tea bags. This will help your family deal with the emergency as well as sustain them.
Vitamins – Your family should prepare to use vitamins during the crisis. Loss of sleep and rest, greater-than-normal work loads, and unusual stress can be addressed with the use of vitamins.
First-aid kit. A first-aid kit with proper supplies should be included in your family’s disaster kit. There is a possibility of injuries and burns to you and/or the members of your family caused by the collapse of buildings.
Tools and equipment. Your family disaster supply kit should include a gas cooker, gas, pots, and pans. Eating utensils (forks, spoons, and knives) with a hand-operated can opener should be included.
Pliers, wrenches, tape, rope, plastic sheets, sewing kits, and tent are items to be included in your disaster kit. Toilet paper, novelettes, personal hygiene items, plastic bags, and a plastic bucket with lid will also be useful during an emergency. Household chlorine bleach and disinfectant should also be included to help sanitize and disinfect family member’s hands and items they handle.
Other items. Paper, pencils, whistle, compass, and a map should be included in your family disaster kit. Keeping a list, writing directions, leaving notes, and finding your way could help sustain your family during an emergency.
Clothing and bedding. Your family disaster kit should include items of clothing and bedding. These include but are not limited to: sturdy shoes, work boots, rain gear, hat, gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, thermal underwear, and coats.
Special Items. Your family disaster kit should also include any special items your family could need, such as: baby items, dentures, eyeglasses, contact lenses, and so forth. Important family documents, entertainment items (games, books), cash and other items needed by your family should be included.
Gasoline for the automobile.
Practicing Your Family Disaster Plan
Invest time in practicing your family disaster plan with each family member. Having a good plan on paper will not protect your family. Each family member should be familiar with every component of the family plan.
Share your family disaster plan. Your willingness to talk with friends and neighbors will help other families discover how important it is for families to be prepared for disasters.
Sharing your family’s plan will also help you prepare to work with friends or neighbors. Teaming with other families will provide opportunities to take advantage of their expertise or equipment following a disaster in your community.
Storage of Your Family Disaster Kit
There is a strong possibility that your family disaster kit will be stored for a long period of time. Care should be taken to provide adequate and safe storage.
One suggestion is, when the time changes each spring and fall, change the batteries in your smoke detector and rotate foods in your disaster supply kit.
Shelter for Your Family
When a crisis occurs in your community, careful consideration must be given to sheltering your family.
Do you have utilities? Sniff for gas leaks. If you smell gas or suspect a gas leak turn off the gas at the main valve. Open the windows and get everyone out of the house.
You may be able to stay in your home but not use the utilities.
If your family owns a camper or tent, you can use them to shelter your family until evacuation is possible or until outside help arrives. If necessary, your family can use a van or automobile for shelter until better accommodations are available.