There’s a giant storm coming your way. Your kids are at school and your spouse is at work. What do you do? Have a plan in advance! In the event that something happens, an emergency preparedness plan is essential. Part of being prepared for an emergency is planning a place to meet your loved ones. Having a plan can make you less stressed and safer in an emergency. Here are some tips to help you plan a safe place to meet your family.
Tip One: If you are home during a tornado or hurricane, you need to get yourself and your loved ones to the safest place indoors. It is recommended that you choose the lowest level in your home and put as many walls in between yourself and the elements as you possibly can. So, head to the basement and find a space without windows or exterior walls if possible. It’s also a great idea to keep an emergency kit in this space with food, water, and medical supplies.
Tip Two: If you experience a sudden emergency, like a fire, choose a place right outside your home that is easy to get to like a neighbor’s mailbox or another neighborhood landmark. It is best to choose a place that your loved ones are familiar with. Make sure each member of your family is aware of this place and frequently remind them where to go, if something like a fire happens.
Tip Three: There are certain emergency situations in which you may have to evacuate your neighborhood. If you have enough time to leave the area, you can meet your family at home and travel to a relative or friend’s house. Tell your children and spouse this plan in advance, so they don’t panic. Grab your supplies, hop in the car, and get out of town until authorities tell you it is safe to go back home.
Tip Four: Before an emergency hits, talk to some of your neighbors and see how you can work together. Some of your neighbors may have a power generator or other special equipment. Others may have medical knowledge that may be useful in a crisis. You should also plan to check on elderly or disabled neighbors to make sure they’re safe and have supplies. It’s also important to make back-up plans for your children in case you can’t get home. Contact a trusted neighbor or friend and plan to have them look after your kids until you can get to them.
Tip Five: Recent events like Hurricane Sandy and the Boston Marathon bombings serve as a good reminder to be prepared, even when you’re away on vacation. The most important thing you can do if you’re out of town and an emergency occurs, is to reach out to your family and friends. Just because they can’t meet you somewhere, doesn’t mean they don’t want to know where you are. Make sure that they know your itinerary. If it’s possible, use your cell phone or social media sites like Facebook or Twitter to let them know you’re safe. You can also register your travel plans using the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the U.S. Department of State. This is a great idea, especially if you’re leaving the country.
There are always more ways you and your loved ones can be prepared for emergencies, but making sure you have a plan to get to a safe place is one of the most important things you can do. Start making your plan with your family, friends, and neighbors as soon as possible. You never know how soon you’ll need it.