Do you have a plan for emergencies, such as the ones we have seen over the past few weeks – wildfires, tornadoes, floods, and other disasters?  We think we are ready, but if the time comes that you are ordered to evacuate your home, what would be the first thing you would grab?  Do you have an emergency kit in your vehicle or in your home, ready to pick up? Every family, school, business and facility such as a nursing home or hospital should have an emergency plan.  Develop a plan for you and your family, just in case.  There should also be policies in place at work and school.  Frequent drills should be held.  Be familiar with the area where you live, and keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movement from weather bulletins. 

First, develop a Family Disaster Plan.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Learn the safest places to seek shelter, regardless of your location – at work, school, or in the car. 
  • Understand basic weather terms and danger signs related to weather conditions.
  • Practice the plan you have developed with your family often.  Find out what type of disasters could occur from your local National Weather Service, and how you should respond.
  • Learn your community’s warning signals and evacuation plans.
  • Pick two places for your family to meet – (1) a spot outside your home for an emergency, such as fire, and (2) a place away from your neighborhood in case you can’t return home.
  • Choose an “out of area”  friend as your “family check-in contact” for everyone to call in case the family gets separated. 
  • Plan what to do if you are told to evacuate.
  • Have safety features in your house, such as smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
  • Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as CPR and first aid.
  • Teach them how to use a fire extinguisher.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911.
  • Keep your disaster supplies ready. 
  • Store important family documents in a waterproof container. 
  • Keep a smaller disaster kit  in the trunk of your car. 

A disaster kit should contain the following items:

  • One blanket or sleeping bag for each person;
  • Prescription medications;
  • A battery-powered NOAA radio;
  • Flashlight;
  • Extra batteries;
  • Change of clothing and footwear for each person;
  • Extra set of keys for your vehicle;
  • Credit card or cash;
  • Special items for infants, elderly, or disabled family members;
  • Non-perishable food;
  • A 3-day supply of water (one gallon per person per day.)
  • Food for pets;
  • Bottled water in the kit, which should be replaced every six months. 

Learn your children’s school emergency policies.  The school should be inspected and tornado shelter areas designated by a registered engineer or architect.  Basements are the best place for protection; however, if there is no basement, schools should use interior rooms and hallways on the lowest floor and away from windows.  Special provisions for disabled students and those in portable classrooms should be made.  Children should be kept at school beyond regular hours if threatening weather is expected.  They will be safer at the school than in a bus or car.  They should not be sent home early if severe weather is expected.  

Hospitals and nursing homes should have similar plans.  Patients should be moved away from windows into hallways.  Special generators should be available to take the place of electricity in case of power failure.  Schools, hospitals, and nursing homes should conduct drills frequently in order for all staff to be fully prepared. 

In case of a warning or threatening weather approaches:

  • Tune in to your weather radio for information;
  • Stay away from windows;
  • Do not open windows;
  • Get into a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement or storm cellar;
  • Get out of automobiles;
  • Do not try to outrun a tornado in your car; leave it immediately;
  • Do not remain in your mobile home; even if they are tied down, they offer little protection from tornadoes and high winds. 

We can never predict when a situation may arise that causes us to suddenly leave our homes.  Being prepared can possibly help save the lives of your family. 

Source: NOAA