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By: Karli Willden

You never know when a disaster may strike, and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. In an emergency there will be many things to worry about, which may cause you to forget important details. A family disaster plan is important so that your family can know exactly what to do if a circumstance or a situation is to arise. Though not everyone’s disaster plan may be the same, it is important to keep a few things in mind:

    1. Designate gathering locations. It is important to have at least two family gathering locations in the case of a disaster. The first location may be just outside the house in case of a fire, and the second location should be far out of the parameter of danger: such as, at a school, park,
      library, church, etc. Knowing where to go in the case of an emergency can prevent confusion and establish family reassurance. It is important to have both locations be familiar to the family members.
    2. Have an evacuation route and become familiar with it.If the need arises for you to evacuate, make sure that the route is familiar to all the family members. It would be wise to go over the route at least twice a year to become familiar. Make sure that that there are at least two possible routes.
    3. Always have a plan B to your plan A. Circumstances may require you to resort to your plan B, in regards to either a gathering place or an evacuation route. Make sure that family members are clear about these details and know the emergency plan.
    4. Know Family Responsibilities In Advance. If personal responsibilities are discussed in advance, it will help the tense moments to pass with more confidence and clarity. Details are less likely to be missed, and the transition process can be smooth when everyone already knows their part.
    5. Plan Priorities in the Case of Evacuation. When you only have a few minutes to pack up your house in an emergency, it can be a daunting task to choose what you should pack   and what you should leave behind. It may help to discuss this ahead of time with family members to help the process become quick and familiar in times of evacuation.
    6. Have emergency contacts available.  If an emergency situation were to arise, it is important to post emergency contact information in the house in advance, so that children can know who to contact. Show the children where these contact pages are located. Have a trusted neighbor or friend’s house be a place that they can go to in case the house is in compromising situations. Don’t assume your neighbors always know what is going on. Call your neighbors nearby to alert them of a situation they may be unaware of to ensure their safety is not compromised. If a family is separated, make sure to call and let them know you are okay and where you are at.
    7. Take pictures of belongings for insurance purposes. It is important to have documentation and pictures of household items for insurance purposes. Take time to take pictures or videos of the house and its valuable belongings. It would be best to have this done in advance, to prevent last minute scrambling.
    8. Have an emergency preparedness kit. An emergency preparedness kit ensures that family members have the basic living necessities in emergency situations. The kit could include food, clothing, medication, blankets, extra money, etc. If a fire were to hit, this kit would provide basic necessities, fresh clothes and some snacks.
    9. Keep all important legal documents in a safe, accessible place. It is important to keep a small, portable file on hand that has all the important legal information in one place. The file may include birth certificates, marriage certificates, and social security cards, etc. Place the file in a place that can be easily grabbed in an emergency situation.
    10. Don’t forget Your Pictures. Often in times of emergency, people forget some of their most valuable belongings, even pictures. Pictures are sometimes irreplaceable, and are devastating to lose. Backup all your pictures on the web, or on a portable device that can easily be transported. If resources are limited, at the very least, put your pictures in a safe, easily accessed location.




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