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Whether an emergency or disaster keeps you at home or requires you to evacuate, you'll be better prepared to deal with the situation, and to help others, if you plan ahead.

Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it's important to plan in advance:

    How will you contact one another?  Phone lines and cell towers could be down

    How will you get back together?  Flooding or down power lines may prevent travel

    What will you do in different situations? Tornado, snow storm, thunderstorm/flooding, etc.


Have at least one out of town contact.  Occasionally the result of large disasters can block phone use in the immediate area, while sometimes long distance calls will go through.  Be sure everyone in your family knows the number for the contact.  Also make a list of three other family members that do not live in your home as contacts as well.

Additional Plans:

Find out what disaster plans are in place at your work, your children's school and other places your family spends time.

Escape Routes:
Have a plan for getting out of your home or building.  Also, plan two evacuation routes because some roads may be blocked  based upon potential hazards for each type of disaster such as low lying areas that could flood, downed power lines, or steep/curvy roadways.

Meeting Places:
Pick three places to meet:

1.    one for sudden emergencies like a fire

2.    one place in your neighborhood

3.    lastly, a regional meeting place in case you can't return home


Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
•  Water, one gallon of water per person for at least three days for drinking and sanitation
•  Food, at least a three day supply of non-perishable food
•  Battery powered or hand crank radio and an NOAA Weather Radio and extra batteries
•  Flashlight with extra batteries
•  First Aid kit
•  Whistle to signal for help
•  Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air, and plastic sheeting and duct tape to make a shelter-in-place
•  Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
•  Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
•  Can opener for food
•  Local maps

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
•  Prescription medication and glasses
•  Infant formula and diapers
•  Pet food and extra water for pet
•  Place important family documents, copies of identification, bank statements and policies in a portable, waterproof container
•  Cash or travelers checks
•  Sleeping bag(s) or other bedding for warmth
•  Change of clothes for winter and one for summer
•  Fire extinguishers
•  Matches in a waterproof container
•  Paper and pencil
•  Books, games, or other activities to keep children occupied

If Disaster Strikes:
•  Remain calm and patient. Put your plan into action
•  Check for injuries
•  Listen to your battery-powered radio for news and instructions
•  Evacuate, if advised to do so.  Wear protective clothing and sturdy shoes
•  Use flashlights  - do not light matches or turn on electrical switches if you suspect damage
•  Check for fires, fire hazards and other household hazards
•  Sniff for gas leaks.  If you smell gas or suspect a leak, get everyone outside quickly, turn off main gas valve, and open windows
•  Remember that right after a disaster, ordinary items in the home can cause damage or injury.  Anything that can move, fall, break
   or can cause a fire, should be considered a home hazard

•  Remember to confine or secure your pets and call your family contact

Click here for more Emergency-Specific Fast Facts from the Red Cross

Children experience trauma during a natural disaster.  When parents remain calm, children calm down more quickly.  Preparing your child for a natural disaster can help a child be better capable of handling the situation.

Before a disaster, parents can:

•  Develop and practice a family disaster plan
•  Determine what the emergency response plan is for schools and/or daycare
•  Determine whether or not your child is to return home by themselves, or go to a neighbor
•  Teach children how to recognize danger signals
•  Explain how and when to dial for help (9-1-1)
•  Help children memorize important family information and their street address
•  Include children's toys and special foods in 72-HOUR KIT

After a disaster, children are most afraid the disaster will happen again, someone will be hurt or killed, or they will be separated from family and left alone

Parents can help minimize their children's fears by:

•  Keeping the family together; do not leave children with family or friends - take them with you if at all possible
•  Calmly and firmly explain the situation
•  Talk to your children at eye level
•  Encourage children to talk about the disaster and ask questions
•  Reassure children with firmness and love
•  Sympathize with and resolve their anxieties
•  Hold your children and spend more time with them
•  Include your children in chores so that they feel they are part of the recovery process and helping get things back to normal

If you have questions on how to talk to your children about an emergency plan, check out the following websites for kids:

Preparing kids for disasters



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