Have you put together an emergency preparedness kit yet? You have? Awesome news! But how about your emergency preparedness plan?The right tools and supplies (including Mountain House emergency kits) are great, but if you don’t have a protocol to turn to for when a natural disaster or other disruptive event occurs, your kit can only do so much good.
What is an Emergency Disaster Plan?
No matter where you live, it’s essential to come up with an emergency disaster plan. It’s a strategy and a step-by-step course of action that you and other members of your household agree upon to know what to do in case of major contingencies.
Given the importance of this subject, we’re going to point you right off the bat to the federal government as a public service resource, which includes emergency disaster plan examples to use as guides, as well as detailed tips on creating one.
Assessing Your Household & Your Routine
At the most general level, coming up with a disaster emergency plan involves a close and careful look at the fundamental needs and routines of your household. What are the basic physical requirements and restrictions of its members? Consider aspects such as age, dietary issues, any medical conditions or physical limitations, potential language barriers - realities that could affect response and resiliency during and after an emergency (it hopefully doesn’t need to be said, but pets and service animals are also very much members of your household to be considered when crafting your emergency preparedness plan!).
Additionally, you should think beyond the confines of your immediate household and consider any extended family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, and other individuals who may need special help in an emergency.
Considering normal daily routines are important because you don’t always know where a natural disaster or other emergency might strike. Defining where you and other members of your household spend significant amounts of time can help you plan ahead in terms of compiling disaster kits, researching evacuation routes, and other elements we’ll cover below.
Communication: Emergency Notifications, Getting in Touch, etc.
Part of your emergency disaster plan should be identifying how you’ll receive emergency notifications. Check with your service provider to make certain your mobile device can receive the Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs) that public safety officials, the National Weather Service, and other authorities send out via the Integrated Public Alert & Warning System. You should also obtain a NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts National Weather Service watches, warnings, and forecasts 24 hours a day and seven days a week, plus non-weather-related emergency notifications.
More generally, it's a good idea to follow the social-media accounts of government agencies. You can learn more in this Ready.gov overview.
Figure out how you will get in touch with other members of your household and anybody else you’re wanting to keep tabs on in the midst of and after an emergency. Make sure everybody has a list of go-to emergency contacts, ideally both on their mobile devices and as hard copies, and keep hard copies in a waterproof container in your disaster kits.
Make sure everybody understands that texting is generally a better way to go than calling in the wake of a disaster, as texts take up less bandwidth and are thus more reliably transmitted. Register with the American Red Cross’s Safe & Well website so you can share messages with friends and loved ones during disaster situations.
Backup cell phones, chargers, cables, and power sources should be part of your emergency kit.
Assessing Locations: Evacuation Routes, Shelters, and More
Safe shelters and evacuation routes are key characteristics of your habitual locations you’ll want to identify in putting together your emergency disaster plan. That includes not only your own home but also workplaces, schools, places of worship, volunteer settings, common commuting routes, hotels, and any other regular parts of your household’s extended geography. Find out the specific disaster response protocols delineated at workplaces and schools.
Shelters vary depending on the kind of disaster and the layout, construction, and location of a given environment. As part of your disaster plan, learn the best places to take refuge in different emergency events. Where you would seek a safe space inside a building in the event of a tornado is not the same as where you’d shelter during a flood, for example.
Practice and sheltering-in-place exercises and evacuations at home multiple times to help cement the game plan in everyone's mind.
As part of your study of potential evacuation routes, don’t restrict yourself to buildings proper: Think about driving or walking routes between your home and common destinations, and familiarize yourself with multiple evacuation routes out of town (keep in mind that the shortest or otherwise most ideal evacuation route may be out of commission for whatever reason in a particular disaster, so you need to have more than one alternative route in mind). Having paper maps of your community and any communities you regularly frequent, plus the broader region(s), in your emergency kits is highly recommended.
Speaking of emergency kits, they’re obviously fundamental to disaster preparedness, and their compilation and maintenance go hand-in-hand with working on an emergency response plan. You’ll find lots of information on emergency kits here at the Mountain House blog, including this infographic guide and this 72-hour kit checklist. This Ready.gov page on the subject is also worth reviewing.
Readying for Disasters
Planning for potential disasters isn't just about immediate survival and security: it's also about longer-range preparation for recovery. It's a good idea to establish an emergency savings account, if that's financially feasible, so that you've got funds for repairs and other potential expenses not covered by insurance.
Speaking of insurance, obtaining health, life, and property insurance is also part of disaster preparedness. A small amount of cash should be in our emergency kit in case you're unable to make withdrawals or use credit cards in the wake of a disruptive event. Back up important documents on a reliable jump drive or the cloud (to supplement the hard copies you keep in your emergency kit).
Your emergency and disaster preparedness plan should also spell out protocol for near-term readiness ahead of potential severe weather, wildfires, and other situations predicted to impact your location. Such actionable steps as keeping your vehicle's gas tank at least half-full at all times—and filling up before bad weather and other forecasted situations - and charging electronic devices fully in advance are examples.
We've necessarily only scratched the surface of the topic of emergency preparedness plans. It’s good to plan ahead even further by stocking a healthy supply of emergency food and water. Remember, being adequately or even seemingly over-prepared for an emergency disaster will save you a lot of trouble!