The disasters that would occur where I live would either be a house fire, thunderstorms, winter storms, or hurricanes. In the event of either of these disasters my family and I do have emergency plans for each. In the event of any emergency, it is important to make sure that your family’s basic needs are being met and that they are going to be safe. I feel the most effective way to do this is to have a plan in place. We all know it is very easy to panic during an emergency; being physically and mentally prepared can help to ease the feeling of panic and most importantly keep my family and I safe. My family and I have four different emergency plans that suit each disaster that I have listened above. I will explain each in detail, but I first want to state that no matter what disaster it is each emergency preparedness plan should include a disaster supply kit, as well as any emergency essentials. The emergency preparedness supplies should be arranged neatly and easily accessible any confusion will only make your family panic more. Every family’s emergency plan will be unique to them and suitable for only them, but then again there are a few general points that will help everyone best prepare their family’s for success.
Before I get into my family’s emergency plan that we have now I would like to explain my childhood emergency plan and how it has changed tremendously. Growing up I wouldn’t say we had the best emergency plan but we had something. Where I live we don’t really have any severe disasters we usually get the after affect or the left over from storms. With that being said having an emergency plan isn’t really talked about where I live or where I even went to school. In school we were taught about fire safety but nothing about other disasters. I can tell now that my parents tried their best to always keep my brother and I safe at all times. I remember asking my mom what would we do if the house ever caught on fire because I remember having a dream about it. The first thing my mom told me was don’t ever panic that will only make you more nervous. I feel this was the best advice because I use it all the time in any emergency that comes my way. After that she told me that she was going to discuss with my father on where our safe meeting stop will be. They decided it was going to be in the cul-de-sac across the street. We practiced this numerous times and thankfully till this day no fire has happened. I also remember my mom telling my brother and I to make a grab and go box if a disaster did occur of things that were most important and things that we would need. Obviously, kids being kids everything in our box was toys. I didn’t realize at the time that it wasn’t suppose to be toys and miscellaneous things. Thankfully, my mom and dad had the real grab and go box. Moral of the story our family emergency plan has improved tremendously.
My family and I thought that it would be smart to have different emergency plans for each disaster that I stated above. The disaster supply kit will be the same for all of them because no matter what the disaster is you need food, water, and shelter. What we made different from each of them is if it’s a fire how will we evacuate? if it’s a thunderstorm or winter storm what will we do to stay safe? and lastly if it’s a hurricane do we go to the basement and fix up the house or do we have enough time to evacuate? These are just a few things that are different from each disaster. They are mostly the same but some need a little more or a little less structure in the emergency plan. In our family we have one cat and one dog so we have also made an emergency plan for them as well.
I will first start with our house fire emergency plan. If a fire does strike in your home, you really don’t have much time to react. Smoke inhalation can overwhelm your family and pets in less than two minutes which isn’t a lot of time. My family and I have prepared a fire evacuation plan so everyone including the pets can make it out of the house quickly and safely. I am the more creative one in the house so I have created a detailed but easy to understand map of the house and who will be in charge of what if a fire does every occur. The map is basically a layout of the house and the rooms. On the map it has red lines drawn from each room to show what way to exit. If those are not possible, the window would have to be the alternative route out of the rooms they are in. Then the map shows from each of those exists how to get to our designated meeting place which is still in the cul-de-sac. Everyone does have an assignment or responsibility in the event of the evacuation. My mom is in charge of getting our box we made if a fire does happen which includes important papers of everyone including the pets and other essential things that we need. If incase it is to dangerous for my mom to get to the box she doesn’t have to worry because it is fireproof. My dad is in charge of getting us out safely if we need help and also, he is in charge of calling 9-1-1. My brother and I are in charge of the pets only because they listen to my brother and I better than they do with my parents and we know all of their hiding places. My brother and I have practiced our 2-minute escape plan with our animals and were pretty successful each time. We all have practiced our 2-mintue escape plan and it went well each time. We try to do our evacuation plan at least once a year. We have done it both in the winter and the summer so no matter the weather we will be calm and able to following our emergency plan.
Next, is our thunderstorm emergency plan. A thunderstorm is considered severe if it produces hail at least 1 inch in diameter or has wind gusts of at least 58 miles per hour. Every thunderstorm produces lighting, which kills more people each year than tornadoes or hurricanes. Heavy rain from thunderstorms can cause flash flooding, and high winds can damage homes and blow down trees and utility poles, causing widespread power outages (redcross.org). With that being said where I live when we do have thunderstorms its never to severe. We have lost power a couple of times but never for a long period of time. My family’s emergency plan for thunderstorms is pretty straight forward. Our safe place is our basement only because my father made sure it will be safe for this kind of weather. We are able to get ourselves and our pets down into the basement easy and safely if we have to do so. As a family we have created a disaster supply kit that would be essential to our emergency plan. Our supply kit has medical supplies, medications, non-perishable foods, water, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and clothing. For our pets we also have a disaster supply kit for them as well. Their supply kit has 1-3 weeks’ supply of pet food for both cat and dog, lots of water, cat litter with a transportable bucket, collars, leashes, a carrier for the cat, medications, treats, toys, blankets, and towels. As a family we also practice this emergency plan once a year and make sure everything in our supply kits are not outdated and information is up-to-date.
Then, is our winter storm emergency plan. Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters (redcross.org). Our family emergency plan for a winter storm is almost like our emergency plan for thunderstorms. Its really important to pay attention to the news to see how severe the winter storm may be so that you can judge if you need to add more to your supply kit. Where I live many stores close way before the snow even starts so my family and I have to get a head start if we need anything from the store. My family has a separate supply kit for the winter storms such as water, food, lots of blankets, lots of towels, extra clothing, flashlights, batteries, candles, and a good supply of heat packs. For our pets they have food, water, toys, treats, and lots of blankets. My father has showed everyone in the house so we all will know incase of a severe winter storm on how to shut off the main water valve so the pipes won’t burst. My mom showed us if we do lose power to put towels at the bottoms of doors that have gaps so no cold hair comes in and whatever heat we have left doesn’t leave. As a family we practice on how we won’t panic if we do lose power and to get the things we need in place and have it next to us in case we need anything. We all take part in each of those things. Once we hear there is going to be a storm my dad does a whole house check to see if we need anything new or if anything is broken so he can fix it. My brother also helps my dad with that stuff. As for me and my mom we make sure we have all the supplies we need handy so if the power does go out we will have a flashlight handy and then go from there. As a family we all work together to make sure everyone is safe and comfortable during these horrific disasters.
Lastly is our Hurricane emergency plan. Hurricanes are strong storms that can be life-threating as well as cause serious hazards such as flooding, storm surge, high winds, and tornadoes (redcross.org). Where I live we never really get the full effect of a hurricane we mostly get severe winds and rain. For example, Super Storm Sandy was the most severe disaster my town has been through as far as I know. My whole town had no power and trees were down everywhere you couldn’t drive anywhere that’s how many trees were down. With that being said, like I stated previously the people in my town don’t prepare for things like this because they barely happen. My family included wasn’t prepared for this hurricane so like everyone else we didn’t take it as a big deal until it was actually happening. I have to say in such short time my family and I pulled it off. We all worked as a team to get through such a horrible time. After experiencing such a horrific disaster, we finally decided as a family to come up with a hurricane emergency plan. Our emergency plan for a hurricane is basically everything that has been said in our previous plans. As a family we gave each other assignments like we have been doing for each of the disasters listed. My father is assigned to hurricane proof the outside of the house as best as he can. As my brothers’ job he is in charge of going to the store and restocking our emergency kit for both us and the animals. On the other hand, my mom and I work together to make sure the inside of the house is hurricane proof. I make sure all of our supplies are organized and ready to be used. While my mom makes sure that if we do lose power everything that needs to be changed like the fridge and freezer on the lowest and flashlights. If we need to evacuate she will get our to go bag all set and ready to go and literally any other last minute things that need to be done. As a family we really do try to work together and keep each other as safe as possible. I feel that that’s the most important thing in any family emergency plan.
Majoring in Emergency Management has really changed my point of view on how important it really is to have a family emergency plan. Living in an area that doesn’t really get affected by many disasters changes your point of view on if you really need to be prepared or not. Yet seeing the lives destroyed by hurricanes, earthquakes, house fires etc. really opens your eyes like maybe this can happen to me and to my family. You never really know what can happen and that’s why it’s so important to always be prepared because when something does happen you won’t know how hard it will affect you and your family. I feel that it’s always better to be over prepared then under prepared. I’m glad that I had parents that taught me even though these horrific disasters don’t happen where you live you still need to prepare for the worst.
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