9 Best Ways To Prepare Your Family For An Emergency
An emergency can strike at any time. Often, people are largely unprepared for these tragic events. This is usually the result of fear when thinking about the worst-case scenarios. In others, it’s the mentality that, while disasters may happen, surely they won’t happen to you.
However, without preparation, your family may be at greater risk. For example, critical information may not be accessible to caregivers or children may not know where to go during a house fire.
Furthermore, people fail to connect family emergency planning with financial planning. By preparing your family for a potential emergency or disaster, you also reduce family financial risk.
If you want to make sure your family is ready for any kind of emergency, here are the eight best ways to prepare. Note, even if you live alone, these best principles may save your life and reduce your financial risk.
9 Best Ways to Prepare Your Family For An Emergency
- Gather Critical Information and Documents
- Build a Natural Disaster Kit
- Have an Evacuation Plan
- Create a Communication Plan
- Familiarize Everyone with Local Resources
- Learn Your Area’s Evacuation Routes
- Learn Emergency Skills
- Have an Emergency Fund
- Life Insurance
1. Gather Critical Information and Documents
If you were suddenly incapacitated, would anyone know what to do? Would they know your health insurance details or if you had allergies to any medications? Could they find your living will?
Then, if someone needed to provide care for your children, would they be able to do it? Do you have a Medical Power of Attorney that allows someone else to get your children medical attention if they need it? Would they be able to pick them up from school in the middle of the day?
There are tons of important pieces of information and crucial documents that family’s need to make sure they can successfully navigate a variety of emergencies or unexpected events. However, most households don’t have them all covered, and rarely is the information centralized.
If you want to make sure that all vital details and documents are ready for any emergency, then you need to get organized. To make it easier, consider grabbing the Mama Fish Saves “Family In Case of Emergency Binder”. It ensures that all of your most important bases are covered and are stored in a logical order.
Then, place the binder and other vital documents, like birth certificates and Social Security cards, in a secure container that resists water and fire damage. That way, should disaster strike, you know that everything is protected. Additionally, you and your loved ones are in well-informed hands.
2. Build a Natural Disaster Kit
Floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes are often serious events. They can leave families stranded without power, running water, or even a way to exit their homes, possibly for days or more.
By building a natural disaster kit, you can make sure that certain essentials are available at all times. Make sure to include at least three gallons of water per person, as that can usually meet your hydration and sanitation needs for three days. Also build up a three-day supply of non-perishable food, ideally items that you don’t have to cook, and gather any required utensils, including a can opener if needed.
Then, get a battery-powered or hand-cranked radio, a flashlight, extra batteries (including smartphone backup chargers), and a first aid kit together. Add a safety whistle, some dust masks, moist towelettes, hand tools, and garbage bags. If possible, keep a few changes of clothes at the ready, as well as extra items like rain jackets, disposable ponchos, or winter coats. Emergency blankets can also be helpful, as they are compact and can keep you warm in a pinch.
You may need to include additional items based on your family’s needs. For example, if you have pets, they’ll need food and water. Extra prescription and over-the-counter medications may be necessary, as well as blankets or sleeping bags.
Ideally, you want to store your items in a location you can get to easily and in containers that can keep water out. Additionally, you’ll need to go through your kit regularly, such as once a year, so that you can identify expired items and replace them.
3. Have an Evacuation Plan
All families should have a basic evacuation plan in the event of a fire or other natural disaster that makes leaving the house quickly a must. This should include routes for getting out of the building safely as well as plans for where to meet up after everyone safely exits the home.
For example, in the event of a fire, would you want your children to head to a specific neighbor’s house? If so, then you need to make this part of an official plan and make sure your kids know where they need to go. Plus, you’ll want to inform the neighbor of your intention to make their home the rendezvous point, ensuring they aren’t startled should an emergency occur.
You may also want to teach your children how to move through the house in there is a fire. For instance, teaching them to stay low, how to check doors for heat, and other important aspects of making a quick exit increase the odds that they can make it out safely. Often, this means practicing the escape routes and techniques regularly, ensuring that what to do comes naturally before there is an emergency.
4. Create a Communication Plan
In some cases, an emergency may occur when everyone isn’t at home. For example, parents may be at work while children are at school. Or an adult may be traveling for business while every other household member is home.
Since disasters can happen when everyone is separated, having a communication plan is essential. Make sure everyone has a list of critical phone numbers, including cell phones, schools, and offices as well as nearby family members or friends. Then, designate an order of contact should an emergency occur, increasing the odds that everyone will be able to check-in with someone and confirm if they are safe or need assistance.
Once you create a list, touch base with every person listed. Make sure they are aware that your family may reach out during an emergency, increasing the chances that they will be prepared to offer their support.
Similarly, every family member should have a list of “In Case of Emergency” or “ICE” phone numbers with them at all times. This can be inside a smartphone or on a phone’s lock screen (if it is password protected), or in a card in their wallet or bag. Then, should a person be incapacitated or unable to communicate, emergency responders know who to contact.
5. Familiarize Everyone with Local Resources
During a disaster, certain items may be harder to locate. However, many communities provide access to local shelters and other emergency resources if the worst should strike.
Make sure your family members are aware of as many potential resources as possible and where they are located in the neighborhood. For instance, schools and large churches may act as safe havens during natural disasters. Some large retailers or restaurants may have limited service, allowing people to purchase food and beverages to help sustain them.
Knowing where police and fire stations are located is also helpful, as well as hospitals. Many first responder and emergency services locations have their own generators, ensuring that they can remain somewhat functional during serious events.
6. Learn Your Area’s Evacuation Routes
Similarly, most communities have standard evacuation routes, particularly those in a hurricane, flood, or tsunami-prone areas. Make sure your family is fully aware of where they need to go if the city or county is forced to evacuate. Especially if heading home first isn’t an option.
Additionally, by knowing the standard routes, you can plan for potential meet-up destinations. Identify friends and family members who are along these stretches and may be outside of the evacuation zones, giving everyone places to head in the case of a quick evacuation.
7. Learn Emergency Skills
A fire extinguisher won’t do anyone much good if no one knows how to use it. Similarly, first aid supplies aren’t helpful if you don’t know which ones to reach to handle certain kinds of injuries.
If possible, make sure as many family members as possible receive training in emergency skills. Basic first aid and CPR courses can be excellent places to start, as well as any safety classes offered by local fire departments.
Additionally, review how to shut off your home’s utilities with anyone who is old enough to handle the task. Being able to turn off your water, gas, and electrical lines could be important depending on the kind of natural disaster heading your way.
8. Have an Emergency Fund
At times, a family emergency isn’t a physical disaster; it’s a financial one. Anything from a large medical bill to unexpected car repairs can derail a family’s budget, creating a significant hardship that can be hard to navigate.
However, if you have an emergency fund, you can be ready for unexpected financial disasters. Even having $1,000 (enough to cover most home or auto insurance deductibles) can make a lot of difference.
Ideally, you want to keep this money in cash. During a natural disaster, electronic-based services may be unavailable. Thus, using a debit or credit card, or heading to the ATM might not be an option. Consider keeping the funds secured with your critical documents, ensuring it is both protected and accessible should the need arise.
By following the tips above, you can make sure that your family is prepared for any potential emergency, increasing the odds that everyone will be safe and have access to the right care, no matter what occurs.
9. Life Insurance
Have you ever asked yourself, do I need life insurance? Life insurance, while not a sexy topic, is crucial to consider for family emergency planning. It’s certainly not fun to talk about with your loved ones.
But, buying life insurance is an essential part of life and financial planning. There are benefits to buying life insurance from an early age. These benefits increase if you have debt, (including student loans), married, a business owner, or if you have or are planning to start a family.
In the event of an emergency, would anyone in your life be adversely affected if you died? From a financial standpoint. If so, or you do not know the answer to this, you may want to check out life insurance options.
As a heads up understand that all insurance companies operate differently offering a wide array of life insurance products. Nowadays, you can complete the entire application online saving you tons of time and money. Just make sure to do your homework and select the best life insurance company for your needs.