How to Create a Family Safety Plan and Prepare for Emergencies

The current coronavirus pandemic is the perfect opportunity to create a family safety plan for times of crisis. Your family may not always be together when disaster strikes, so it’s important to plan ahead so everyone knows exactly what to do to stay safe. Being prepared for an emergency such as an epidemic, quarantine, housefire, or natural disaster might just save a life. There are several things you can do, big and small, to set your family up for an efficient and effective emergency response. Here are some tips to get you started.

Store Essential Supplies

Your family might have to survive on your own for several days following a disaster, so make sure you’re prepared with an emergency supply kit. Include basic items like first-aid supplies, dust masks, local maps, backup cell phone chargers, at least three days’ worth of food, and three gallons of water per person. A couple of reliable flashlights and extra batteries are also essential. If the power goes out or a disaster occurs at night, a bright, long-lasting flashlight will provide portable light when you need it most. Remember to keep a smaller emergency supply kit in your car in case you get stranded on the road—especially when traveling in winter.

Monitor Your Home for Hazards

Home safety hazards can increase your risk of a house fire or put your family in danger during a natural disaster like an earthquake. Walk through your home and look out for potential fire hazards, such as flammable cleaning supplies stored near heat sources, candles positioned near curtains, and frayed wires on appliances. During an earthquake, large bookcases, dressers, wall-mounted shelving, and wall hangings could fall and hurt someone, so be sure to secure furniture to the wall and remove any heavy art hanging over your bed.

Make a Home Evacuation Plan

Make sure everyone in your household knows the best ways to evacuate your home and how to do so safely in different emergency situations. Don’t just talk about your evacuation plan—practice it! State Farm recommends drawing a map of your home evacuation routes, especially if you have young children. Plan a primary and alternative meeting spot somewhere outside, like the end of your driveway, where your family can find each other following an emergency evacuation. Finally, take some time to identify the evacuation routes out of your community and make sure you know where your local emergency shelters are located. 

List Emergency Contacts

An emergency contact list will ensure everyone in your home knows exactly who to call during an emergency. Remember, you won’t always have access to the internet in a disaster! Make a list of phone numbers that includes the police department, fire department, doctor, veterinarian, and poison control. Homes.com recommends posting these emergency numbers on your fridge or next to your landline phone. Also, make sure your kids know how to dial 911 and recite your full address.

Keep Copies of Important Documents

Important documents can easily get lost or damaged during a disaster. Make extra copies of crucial documents, including birth certificates, property deeds, drivers licenses, insurance policies, passports, and photographs of family members, and store them in more than one place. Keep paper copies in a binder in your nightstand, in a fireproof and waterproof safe in your home, and in an off-site security deposit box. It’s also a good idea to keep a digital backup of your important documents on a USB stick or in cloud storage.

While thinking about natural disasters and household emergencies can be scary, planning for the worst can give you and your family some peace of mind. Just remember to review your emergency plan often. Your safety plan may need some adjustments as your family moves to different geographical areas, your kids get older, or your household medical needs change. If you’re stuck inside with your family over the COVID-19 crisis, this is a great time to create or update your safety plan.

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