Emergency preparedness plans are common in the workplace and in various public venues, but they are much less common where they are perhaps most needed: in the home. With all the chaos happening around us today, there is no better time than now to make sure you are prepared in case of an emergency.
From basics, like having an emergency savings account, to more specific actions, like knowing how to perform readiness checks on an automated external defibrillator (AED), the best way to protect yourself is to prepare.
Sticking to the following simple guidelines may help your family respond quickly if, and when, disaster strikes.
Regardless of the emergency, there are a few supplies that are always useful to keep in stock. In case of a power outage, make sure you are stocked up on water, canned foods, and batteries for radios and flashlights. Keep your emergency stock in a waterproof, airtight container that all members of the family can easily access.
First aid kits are another great addition to your emergency supply stock. Whether the threat is internal or external, first aid kits can help you tend to smaller medical emergencies until you can reach additional help. Though each one varies, make sure your kit at least contains the following:
Other things to include in your first aid kit are tweezers, a thermometer, and basic over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen and aspirin.
Consider personalizing your first aid kit, too. Add a change of clothes for each family member as well as each family member’s essential medications. Should a natural disaster occur, this ensures that everyone has at least a few essentials if they must evacuate quickly or if other belongings are destroyed.
Regardless of how you store your emergency supplies, be sure to check them often. Make sure no supplies or medications have expired, and make sure all members of the family have easy access to the stock of supplies.
First aid kits are excellent solutions to short-term, minor medical issues. For larger medical emergencies, however, consider keeping a few medical devices around your home.
For example, AED USA offers a number of AEDs that can save lives when seconds matter in a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. Their ease of use makes AEDs handy devices to add to your first aid kit. As with first aid kits, you want to check these devices regularly to ensure that they are operating safely and efficiently. Specifically, replace batteries and electrode pads whenever necessary — usually every few years.
Knowing how to use an AED is equally important. Your individual steps may vary based upon the type of AED, and most AEDs offer clear visual and/or auditory prompts. Nevertheless, following these simple steps can ensure safe operation:
Many places that offer CPR certification will offer AED certification, as well. Though certification is not required, it is an excellent way to prepare for an at-home emergency. If you do decide that an AED is right for your household, go through a few practice runs with everyone every few months. This can help save precious moments when responding to a cardiac emergency.
An AED is just one of many devices that can help prepare your home for emergencies. Consider checking up on other useful tools, such as fire extinguishers. All buildings, including homes, should contain at least one extinguisher.
Make sure that it is functional, that all household members know where it is, and that everyone knows how to use it. Similarly, routinely check fire alarms and other emergency alert devices. They should be checked for batteries and tested to ensure that their alarms are loud and recognizable to all household members.
Make sure all members of the house have access to a list of important contacts.
Although many keep these lists in their phones, consider keeping a physical copy in your home in case of a power outage or loss of service. Some contacts that you may want to have on hand include the non-emergency police line, the fire department, the family doctor, and the nearest hospital.
Once you have created a solid contact list, make sure that all household members know how to call for help. Young children should be taught how to dial each number in the event of imminent danger, and they should know at least one family phone number in case of separation.
It is always a good idea to have response plans for every possible emergency. Start by reviewing plans with which you are already comfortable. Even young children within the home, for example, are familiar with the command to “stop, drop, and roll” if their clothes catch fire. As stated above, young children should also know how to reach emergency contacts.
Not all emergencies are preventable, however, so you should be prepared to exit your home safely should disaster strike. Know how to exit each room in multiple different ways, if possible, in case of consumption by smoke, fire, or water.
Once outside the home, families should meet at a previously agreed-upon location. This meeting spot does not have to be far away; in fact, a meeting place across the street is likely the most convenient way to regroup.
You should be able to get to your meeting location and account for all family members as quickly as possible. This is especially important for younger family members who may not have direct access to a phone and cannot quickly contact family if displaced.
Aside from fire and cardiac threat, consider response plans to dangers such as natural disasters. Make sure that everyone in the house knows where to go in the event of inclement weather.
This step is easily forgotten, as documents are hardly anyone’s greatest concern when property and life are threatened. Some things will be necessary during the clean-up process, however, and having all important paperwork in one location can alleviate some post-disaster stress.
What you choose to keep in your safe is a personal choice, but a few documents that are wise to include are:
Safes are an optional way to prepare for disaster by keeping important belongings in one place, and many of them are built to withstand disasters such as fires and floods. Maintaining important documents is a simple step toward getting your home back to normal as quickly as possible post-disaster.
Though this is one of the most fundamental steps in the emergency preparedness process, it is often one of the most dismissed. Setting aside money — especially for something that may or may not happen — is often challenging.
If you find yourself in the midst of a true emergency, though, this cushion can act as a way to keep things running while you focus your energy on preparing or responding to the threat at hand.
There are a few ways to approach this savings process, but you can start by determining an amount to save. Most financial institutions recommend saving six months’ worth of money, but the right amount to save depends on your family’s individual situation and needs.
If this number seems overwhelming, start by putting aside a given amount of money each paycheck. Even if you are unable to save as much as you would like, every little bit counts. If you find yourself in a disaster, you will be grateful for any cushion you have created for yourself.
Where you keep this money is also personal, but you may want to create a savings account specifically for your emergency funds. Often, people set money aside to automatically deposit into this account each month. Whichever way you proceed, be sure to keep your emergency fund built up and ready to have your back when everything else feels chaotic.
The final step in emergency preparedness is making sure your car is ready for emergency escape.
Wildfires and hurricanes are two of the primary reasons people are suddenly uprooted, and sometimes preparation time is limited. To avoid last-minute scrambling, have a “to-go” bag that you can easily throw in or keep in your car.
This bag might look like the one you’ve used to store all your stocked supplies. It may contain the same basics: first aid equipment, general and personal medications, and at least one change of clothing. You may also want to keep a few sheets or blankets stored in the trunk should you ever find yourself in a situation in which you must sleep or spend a significant amount of time in your vehicle.
In today’s hectic world, it is easy to feel overwhelmed by potential threats, and it is even more frightening when they strike at home. There are a number of ways to prepare yourself for these disasters, but keeping these seven things in mind as you develop a comprehensive emergency plan for your household can help reduce your stress as you prepare for the worst.