You can't always prevent a disaster, but you can prepare. That’s why this year’s National Preparedness Month theme is “Prepared, Not Scared.” One of the best ways to ensure your family’s safety is setting out an emergency plan in advance. The anxiety that comes with an unanticipated situation makes clear thinking and good decisions harder, but a solid understanding of the steps you need to take will help you avoid mistakes. We wanted to share some tips to help you and your family get started:
Make sure everybody has essential contact information
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for an emergency is ensure everybody can stay in contact. If somebody gets lost or separated, they should know how to find or get in touch with the rest of the family. Prepare yourself by having all family memorize:
- Phone numbers – Everybody should know the phone numbers for all other family members. You should also encourage memorizing the home phone number.
- Physical address – First, remember the home address. Everybody should already know this, but if there are small children involved, double check that they can tell you the city, neighborhood, street name, and house number they live at. You should also set up a few locations family members can go to in case the house is not an option. One should be somewhere inside your neighborhood near your home, and the other should be outside the neighborhood. These are good to have in case of a fire or unsafe situation near the house.
- Emergency contact – In addition to having each other’s information, all family members should know the name, phone number, and address of an emergency contact. This is somebody who doesn’t live in your house, but you fully trust, has enough knowledge of your medical history to act on your behalf, and will know what to do in a tough scenario. Though they can be a family member, they don’t have to be. A long-time friend or neighbor works just as well.
Store extra essentials in your home
A natural disaster or local emergency can throw the city into panic mode. Stores may not be open—or accessible by roads. That’s why it’s important to keep the things you’ll need in your home. The primary thing you need to consider is food. Stock up on non-perishables, canned goods, and anything that keeps without cooling. Also maintain a supply of bottled water for drinking, in case the water supplied the city can’t be used or is no longer safe to be used.
Pack a bag
Certain events may require your family leaves your home. If such a situation arises, you might not have time or be in the right mindset to collect the necessary items. It’s a good idea to put together a bag with the things you might need. Consider including:
- A first aid kit
- Sleeping bags,
- Three-day supply of food and water for each family member (keep non-perishable items and bottled water)
- A battery-operated radio
- Personal care items (toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, spare clothing)
- Copies of important documents (drivers license, passport, birth certificates)
For a more extensive list, check out the one put together by The Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Keep it simple
Don’t go overboard with complicated plans or lists of things to remember. During a true crisis, you’ll likely be stressed, and won’t be able to remember everything you planned. Quick thinking and immediate action can make a huge difference certain situations, so the last thing you want is to be blanking out on what you need to do.
This is even more important when small children are involved. An adult might be able to keep their cool and remember the whole process, but a younger kid won’t always be able to handle it. Stick to the most essential information, and make sure they know it like the back of their hand.
Write it out
Put the emergency contacts, meeting spots, and other important information on a list. Leave it somewhere easily accessible by everybody, like hung up on the refrigerator or stowed in a kitchen drawer.
Writing it out will not only help you remember it, but it can also be a lifesaver in a real emergency. If you do forget, you always have something to refer back to and remember.
Start saving now
Whether the disaster is physical like an earthquake or hurricane, or something more personal like a job loss or family emergency, you’ll need something to fall back on when it’s over. Even after a natural disaster, there will be a period of getting back to normal life that puts additional strain on your finances. In the case of a family emergency, there will be expenses you couldn’t foresee.
It’s essential to prepare for all scenarios by starting to build your savings. Denali offers many options for short and long-term accounts. To learn more, click here.