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Disaster Preparedness: Preparing Your Family for the Unexpected (Part 1)

Disasters can happen anytime without warning. Common types of disasters are brought about by extreme weather conditions such as hurricane, flood and earthquake while others are brought by accident such as fire and chemical or biological emergencies. But regardless of the type of disaster, the ultimate question is, is your family prepared?

Major disasters can cost lives especially to those who are caught unprepared. And many die not only because of the actual event but also because of hunger and disease on the aftermath of the disaster. After a major disaster which could affect several communities or cities, it is unlikely that there would be an immediate response team that is able to respond or cater to everyone’s needs. Basic services are also cut off such as water, electricity and communication. So it is important that every family should be able to take care of its needs for at least 72 hours to survive.

By preparing in advance and working together as a family, you can easily cope with any disaster.

Family Disaster Planning

This is the first step in preparing your family for a disaster. Proper planning is important so your family knows exactly what disaster to expect, what to do, where to go, and what to bring during and after a disaster.

In family disaster planning, there are several important things to discuss with your family:

  • Discuss the most probable types of disaster that could happen in your area. Every member of the family should be acquainted with each type of disaster, what worst scenario could happen and what to do. This will help reduce panic and fear in case the actual disaster will happen. You can get more information on this by contacting your local emergency management office in your area.
  • Explain to your family the need to prepare. Proper understanding as to the importance of preparedness will help all the members take your planning seriously.
  • Make an overall plan and keep it simple so that everyone can easily remember it.
  • Get everyone involved. Assign responsibilities for each member including the children.

Details to be included in your Family Disaster Plan:

  • Places to Meet – Assign places where your family should meet in case of emergency. Like outside your home, in the neighborhood or outside your neighborhood depending on the type of disaster you have to deal with. Everyone should know the exact address as well as contact number if available of the meeting location.
  • Communication Plan – In a disaster, there is a big possibility of being separated from each other. With a good communication plan, you can still get in touch with each member during or after a disaster. Instruct each member of the family to call your contact person and tell of their location. More often, it is easier to make long distance calls than local calls after local disasters. Everyone in the family must know the complete contact details of the relative.
  • Evacuation Area – If authorities or circumstances dictate that you need to evacuate, you should also be able to make plans about your temporary shelter. You can plan to stay with a friend, relative or evacuation area outside your community.
  • Escape Routes – There are types of disasters that require you to escape from your home or from your neighborhood. In any circumstances, your family should already know what to do. It is easier to plan for escape routes in your home but when it comes to escape routes for going out of your community, you really need to coordinate with local authorities that will direct you to the safest roads.
  • Plan how to deal with your pets – If you have pets at home, you should include special planning on how to take care of them and who will take care of them in case of emergency or disaster.
  • Special needs of some members in the family – Children, seniors and family members with disabilities may have special needs during and after an emergency or disaster. You must include this in your planning especially if it involves special medication and the likes.

Please read Part 2 that will discuss in detail what things to prepare including first aid kit, emergency supplies and more.

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