As the old adage goes, we must hope for the best while still preparing for the worst. Unfortunately, disasters such as tornadoes, earthquakes, and floods happen all too often in our communities. However, initiatives such as National Disaster Preparedness Month encourage families to put contingency plans in place should emergencies arise. This year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Communicate,” with an emphasis on preparedness for youth, older adults, and people with disabilities, as well as those with access and functional needs. Weekly themes include Preparing Family & Friends, Preparing Through Serivce, and Individual Preparedness, through steps such as dowloading the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) app.
Here are some more ways you and your family can be ready for almost anything this Disaster Preparedness Month.1
Get a Kit
When the unexpected strikes your community, you may lose access to things your family needs to stay safe and healthy. Additionally, stores frequently run out of important supplies when situations look threatening. For this reason, it’s important to keep an emergency supply kit of food and water, health supplies, personal care items, and electronics, such as extra batteries and a flashlight. For more information on putting together your own emergency kit, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's webpage on gathering emergency supplies.
Make a Plan
Already having a plan in place for how to contact one another and what steps you will take in different types of emergency situations will help protect you and your family should an emergency arise. You should identify what types of emergencies are most likely to occur in your area and plan for them specifically. For example, if tornados are common near you, make sure your family knows how to identify the warning signs and where they can take shelter. Determining the best escape routes from your home, choosing multiple meeting places in your neighborhood, and finding safe spots in your home are all ways to build on your Family Disaster Plan.
Every emergency is different, but making sure you have access to the information and updates you need to keep your family safe is always crucial. There are many different ways communities alert the public to developments during an emergency, including social media, sirens, emergency texts, road signs, and phone calling systems. Learn about how your community gets the message across through your local health department or emergency management agency, and tune in.
Finally, when preparing for emergencies, it is easy to become overwhelmed by feelings of anxiety and stress as you imagine the “what ifs.” However, it is important to keep in mind that people are resilient and can recover from scary and difficult situations. Reassure your children that these safety steps are precautions, meant to keep them safe if something uncontrollable happens, not something they should worry about. The more precautions you take, the better you will manage emergency situations, but maintaining a healthy state of mind is just as important.
National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse
2 Photo submitted by Joseph Olivares