5 Essential Tips to Prepare Your Family for Emergencies
September is National Preparedness Month, and now is the time to prepare yourself and your family for emergencies.
In the West Georgia area, tornadoes and severe storms are the most common threats we face regularly. However, even a heavy rain can cause a crisis, as happened in September 2009 when a foot of rainfall within a few short days, overflowing creeks and rivers through the West Georgia and Atlanta area. The resulting flood washed away roads, bridges, and homes. Several people were killed throughout the region.
You can prepare your family for the unexpected by taking a few simple steps to be ready for emergencies:
- Stay alert. Mobile technology is a great way to get the latest news and emergency alerts for your area. Find out what alerts are available in your area by searching online using your city or county name and the word “alerts” to see what’s available. For example, at Carroll County’s website, http://www.carrollcountyga.com/, you can choose the “Notify Me” button and sign up for alerts and messages from local government agencies. At home, it’s a good idea to have a NOAA Weather Radio that provides comprehensive weather and emergency information, including chemical spills, AMBER alerts, and national emergencies. Be sure you have extra batteries and/or back-up power supplies for your devices.
- Make a family communication plan. First, make sure your child knows how to dial 911. If your child carries a mobile device, program an “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) person into their Contacts. One of the worst things in a crisis is not knowing that everyone else is okay. A family communication plan can ease some of that stress. Choose a person, possibly someone who lives out of town and away from the immediate danger, and instruct everyone in the family to call that person with updates.
- Text don’t call. Unless you are in immediate danger, send a text. Texts often have an easier time getting through during emergencies, and you don’t want to tie up phone lines needed by emergency responders (like 911).
- Choose a safe meeting place. If you live in an area where storms are the primary danger, make sure everyone knows where to go inside the house during a tornado warning, which means an actual tornado has been spotted in your area. Also, designate an area outside the home to meet in case of fire or other emergency that requires leaving the home. This could be a neighbor’s house, a big tree, or some other place nearby but far enough away to be safe. If the emergency requires leaving the neighborhood, a library, house of worship, or family friend’s home could be a good designated meeting place. Be sure everyone in the family has the name, address, and telephone number of the location, and talk to children about when such meeting places might be necessary and how they would get there.
- Create an emergency kit. At home, make sure you always have some bottled water and non-perishable foods on hand. Save the Children® also recommends preparing a backpack or bag for each family member with essential hygiene items and contact information in case you need to leave home quickly. Your emergency kit should contain:
- Each child’s contact and medical information
- Emergency contact numbers for other friends and relatives
- Recent photos of each child
- Comfort food and snacks
- Activity items like books, puzzles and games
- Comfort items like a stuffed animal or blanket
When disaster strikes, children are particularly vulnerable. Responding in a calm, organized manner not only helps your children know how to act, it conveys a powerful message that they are safe, advises the American Academy of Pediatrics. Children will mirror your response and actions in times of crisis. Make safety a priority for your family by taking steps to ensure your family is ready to respond if a disaster strikes.