Have an Emergency Preparedness Plan

Although just September is National Preparedness month, the reality of dealing with a disaster doesn’t become any less plausible for the remainder of the year. Power outages, weather emergencies and even civil unrest can send you and your family into a survival-based panic. Having a plan is, by all means, the best plan.

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Know the plan: It’s important not to make your disaster preparation too complicated. It should be a simple, concise list of what to do and where to go. Meet with your family and discuss how to prepare for emergencies that can potentially happen in your area. While Idaho may not deal with hurricanes, we do have a realistic risk of earthquakes, wildfires and flash-flooding that can quickly displace or separate families.

Designate a meeting spot: The American Red Cross suggests to determine two places to meet in case you or others in your family become separated. The first should be right outside your own home. The second should be a location outside your neighborhood in case you cannot return home or are asked to evacuate.

Evacuation: Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. You may choose to go to a hotel, stay with friends or relatives in a safe location or go to an evacuation shelter if necessary.

Practice evacuating your home with your family. Once or twice a year, drive your planned evacuation route and plot alternate routes on your map in case roads are impassable. Making these practice runs a fun, family event will help children remember the process better and help them cope with the stress of a real evacuation, if it ever happens.

If there is an elderly household member or someone who has physical, medical or cognitive disabilities, special consideration must be taken to ensure their safety during an emergency. Discuss the best plan of action to take and be sure to include any personal care attendants in the decisions. For additional information, Red Cross offers a helpful booklet on how to best accommodate specials needs individuals in your plans.

Family pets may also need special consideration since many shelters cannot take them in. If your plan includes evacuation shelters or a hotel/motel, research their policies on pets as part of your plan. The American Red Cross offers some great information on how to include your fur friends in your emergency plan.

Communication: Choose an out-of-area emergency contact person, but do not reply on phones, landline or cell, to be functional during a disaster. Keep your cell phone with you, but don’t depend on it. It may be easier to text or call long distance if local phone lines are overloaded or out of service. Everyone should have emergency contact information in writing or saved on their cell phones.

Keep a preparedness kit: Creating a kit of survival necessities can literally be the difference between life and death. FEMA and Red Cross suggest your kit contain everything required to survive for three days without telephone, electricity/gas, clean running water/plumbing, access to food stores or medical assistance. If you can prepare for more than three days, even better.

If you don’t have a kit prepared yet, now is the time to start building one. Since everyone’s day-to-day requirements are a little different, your items must be specific to you and your family. For ideas on what to include (beyond basic staples like food and water), have a look at FEMA’s short checklist, or download Farm Bureau’s Disaster Preparedness Kit Supply List

We won’t always know when a disaster can strike, but we can be prepared for when it does.