Having a plan in an emergency situation seems simple enough but, do you have situation specific plans? Your plan for a fire may not be the same as your plan for a flood. Each situation is different, and although you can't necessarily anticipate every situation, there are several that you should plan for separately.
Any Safety Plan should be developed by all members of the household in mind and practiced often. Involve children in the development of the plan so they are confident and well aware of what they are expected to do. Also, stress how important it is for the plan to be strictly adhered to during any emergency.In case of Fire
The most common plan to have is a safety plan in case of a Fire. Use a map of the house in planning and design multiple exit strategies specific to the layout of the house with each household member in mind. Decide on a meeting spot outside and once outside, do not re-enter the home. Practice should include crawling through the house to the exit, what to do if clothes catch on fire (stop, drop, and roll), and should be timed. Practice twice a year, a good time would be when you change the batteries in the smoke alarms.In case of Flood
You should also develop a safety plan in case of a Flood. Prepare for a flood in advance and compile a survival kit complete with drinking water, non-perishable food, medical supplies, and rain gear. Also, be prepared with protective gear such as masks, gloves, and boots for clean-up. A complete list of survival items is available on the American Red Cross website. A battery powered radio is a great addition to any survival kit, as you may find yourself without electricity. It is always recommended to keep your distance from any flood waters, as they can be very unpredictable and unsafe. Teach young children in advance about the dangers of flood water and make sure that everyone keeps their distance until the waters have receded. Practice driving out of town several different ways, as your normal route may be blocked by water and you may need an alternate route. Your safety plan should also include a contact person in case you are separated. That person would be responsible for any inbound and outbound calls during the emergency. Also, talk to your insurance agent about flood insurance coverage because it is excluded from a regular homeowner's policy.In case of Winter Storms
With winter closing in on us, you also want to have a plan for winter storms. Keep a list of what should be done just prior to a storm. Include on that list, filling your vehicle with gas, gathering or ordering extra firewood, filling the home heating system, and inspecting your survival kit. You should have a survival kit already assembled which should include things like, flashlights, extra batteries, extra winter clothes (hats, scarves, and mittens), drinking water, and non-perishable food. (You can find a complete list on the American Red Cross website.) There should also be one contact person assigned for any inbound and outbound emergency calls.
After you develop the safety plans that work for you and your household, make sure you update them as needed. If you have added an addition to the house or completed a renovation project, it may change your specific plan of getting out in the event of an emergency. You may also have to change your contact person due to a change in their household status.
Practice your plan to ensure everything runs smoothly and everyone knows their role in the plan. In an emergency, not everyone has the ability to think clearly. By practicing your Safety Plan, everyone will know what they are supposed to do when they are faced with an emergency situation.
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*This story originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Connections Magazine, as part of a monthly contribution made by Disaster Blaster, Inc. Please check out the current issue of Connections Magazine for this month's story!
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