Putting together a disaster plan is something that is often overlooked but that can be of tremendous help in the event of a catastrophe. There are four basic steps you can take to help get you and your family ready. (These recommendations were compiled from resources available on The Disaster Center’s website.)
The first is to find out what could happen to you. Apart from the common “anywhere” disasters such as a fire or gas leak, find out what kinds of things are region-specific that you may need special directions for.
Second, create a plan that includes instructions on where to meet outside of the home if there is a fire, as well as a dedicated out-of-town contact to check in with if your family gets separated (it’s often easier to make long-distance calls rather than local calls in an emergency).
Third, visibly post a checklist that includes emergency numbers as well as instructions on how to turn off water, gas, or electricity in the case of a leak or damaged lines if the authorities instruct you to do so.
Finally, it’s important to practice and maintain your plan. Review your plan and check on any disaster food/water/medical supplies every six months or so; doing this will ensure that all the hard work you’ve done won’t go to waste. Check on and maintain smoke alarms, CO alarms, and fire extinguishers on a regular basis.
[Ben Boltinghouse is a public safety officer with Parkland College.]