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- Family Disaster Plan
Family Disaster Plan
Please print a copy of the Family Disaster Plan for your home.
Hancock County has an Emergency Operations Plan that covers the emergency actions to be taken before, during and after an emergency or disaster. Likewise, your family should have a plan that clearly details how you should act in an emergency. The more prepared you are the less time you waste asking, "What Do We Do?" Not only is last minute planning scary, it is dangerous. By following the recommended actions listed below, your family can be ready.
Four Steps to Safety
There are four basic steps to developing a family disaster plan:
- Step 1 - Learn Your Risks
- Step 2 - Ask Questions
- Step 3 - Create a Family Disaster Plan
- Step 4 - Stock emergency supplies & assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit
Find out what could happen to you. By learning what your risks may be, you can prepare for the disaster most likely to occur in your area.
Ask the following:
- What type of disasters are most likely to happen in your community? Identify which natural, human-caused or technological disasters can occur. Remember to consider major chemical emergencies that can occur anywhere chemical substances are stored, manufactured, or transported.
- How should you prepare for each?
- Does your community have a public warning system?
- What about animal care after disaster? Pets (other than service animals) are not permitted in places where food is served, according to many local health department regulations. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted.
- If you care for infants, elderly or disabled persons, how can you help them? What might be some special needs to consider?
- What are the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or daycare center, and other places where members of your family spend time? You should be prepared wherever you may be when disaster strikes and learn steps you can take to prevent or avoid disasters.
Once you know what disasters are possible in your area, talk about how to prepare and how to respond if one occurs. Make check-lists of steps you can take as you discuss this information with your family.
Here is how to create your Family Disaster Plan:
- Meet with your family and discuss why you need to prepare for disaster.
- Explain the dangers to children. Plan to share responsibilities and work together as a team. Keep it simple enough so people can remember the important details. A disaster is an extremely stressful situation that can create confusion. The best emergency plans are those with very few details.
- Discuss the types of disasters that are most likely to happen. Explain what to do in each case. Everyone should know what to do in case all family members are not together. Discussing disasters ahead of time will help reduce fears and anxiety and will help everyone know how to respond.
- Pick two places to meet:
- Right outside of your home in case of a sudden emergency, like a fire.
- Outside of your neighborhood in case you can't return home or are asked to leave your neighborhood. Everyone must know the address and phone number of the meeting location.
- Develop and emergency communication plan. In case family members are separated from one another have a plan for getting back together. Separation is a real possibility during the day when adults are at work and children are at school.
- Ask an out-of-town relative or friend to be your "family contact." Your contact should live outside of your area. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long distance call than a local call. Family members should call the contact and tell him or her where they are. Everyone must know the contact's name, address, and phone number.
- Discuss what to do if authorities ask you to evacuate. Make arrangements for a place to stay with a friend or relative who lives out of town and/or learn about shelter locations.
- Be familiar with escape routes. Depending on the type of disaster, it may be necessary to evacuate your home. Plan several escape routes in case certain roads are blocked or closed. Remember to follow the advice of local officials during evacuation situations. They will direct you to the safest route; some roads my blocked or put you in further danger.
- Plan how to take care of your pets. Pets (other than service animals) are not permitted to be in places where food is served, according to many local health department regulations. Plan where you would take your pets if you had to go to a public shelter where they are not permitted.
- Complete your checklists. Take the steps outlined in the checklists you made when you created your Family Disaster Plan.
- Post by phones emergency telephone numbers (police, fire, ambulance, etc.). You may not have time in an emergency to look up critical numbers.
- Teach all responsible family members how and when to turn off the water, gas, and electricity at the main switches or valves. Keep necessary tools near gas and water shut-off valves. Turn off utilities only if you suspect a leak or damaged lines, or if you are instructed to do so by authorities. If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on. Paint shut-off valves with white or fluorescent paint to increase visibility. Attach a shut-off valve wrench or other special tool in a conspicuous place close to the gas and water shut-off valves.
- Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Ask your insurance agent to review your current policies to ensure that they will cover your home and belongings adequately. Homeowner's insurance does not cover flood losses. If you are a renter, your landlord's insurance does not protect your personal property; it only protects the building. Renter's insurance pays if a renter's property is damaged or stolen. Contact your insurance agent for more information.
- Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Smoke alarms cut nearly in half your chances of dying in a home fire. Smoke alarms sense abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gases in the air. They can detect both smoldering and flaming fires. Many areas are now requiring hard-wired smoke alarms in new homes.
- Get training from your fire department on how to use your fire extinguisher (A-B-C type), and show family members where extinguishers are kept. Different extinguishers operate in different ways. Unless responsible family members know how to use your particular model, they may not be able to use it effectively. There is not time to read directions during an emergency. Only adults should handle and use extinguishers.
- Conduct a home hazard hunt. During a disaster, ordinary objects in your home can cause injury or damage. Anything that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire is a home hazard. For example, during an earthquake or a tornado, a hot water heater or a bookshelf could turn over or pictures hanging over a couch could fall and hurt someone. Look for electrical, chemical, and fire hazards. Contact your local fire department to learn about home fire hazards. Inspect your home at least once a year and fix potential hazards.
(See the "Disaster Supplies Kit" section.) Keep enough supplies in your home to meet your needs for at least three days. Assemble a Disaster Supplies Kit with items you may need in case of an evacuation. Store these supplies in sturdy, clearly labeled, easy-to-carry containers, such as plastic totes, backpacks or duffel bags.
- Keep a smaller Disaster Supplies Kit in the trunk of your car. If you become stranded or are not able to return home, having these items will help you to be more comfortable.
- Keep a portable, battery-operated radio or television and extra batteries. Maintaining a communications link with the outside is a step that can mean the difference between life and death. Make sure that all family members know where the portable, battery-operated radio or television is located, and always keep a supply of extra batteries.
- NOAA Weather Radio with a tone-alert feature. NOAA Weather Radio is the best means to receive warnings from the National Weather Service. The National Weather Service continuously broadcasts updated weather warnings and forecasts that can be received by NOAA Weather Radio that has both a battery backup and a Specific Area Message Encoder (SAME) feature, which automatically alerts you when a watch or warning is issued for your country, giving you immediate information rmation about a life-threatening situation.
- Take a First Aid and CPR class. Have your family learn basic safety measures, such as First Aid and CPR. These are critical skills that can save a life.
- Plan home escape routes. Determine the best escape routes from your home in preparation for a ire or other emergency that would require you to leave the house quickly. Find two ways out of each room.
- Find the safe places in your home for each type of disaster. Different disasters often require different types of safe places. While basements are appropriate for tornadoes, they could be deadly in a major chemical emergency.
- Make two photocopies of vital documents and keep the originals in a safe deposit box. Keep one copy in a safe place in the house, and give the second copy to an out-of-town friend or relative. Vital document such as birth and marriage certificates, tax records, credit card numbers, financial records, and wills and trusts can be lost during disasters.
- Make a complete inventory of your home, garage, and surrounding property. The inventory can be either written or videotaped. Include information rmation such as serial numbers, make and model numbers, physical descriptions, and price of purchases (receipts, if possible). This list could help you prove the value of what you owned if your possessions are damaged or destroyed and can help you to claim deductions on taxes. Be sure to include expensive items such as sofas, chairs, tables, beds, chests, wall units, and any other furniture too heavy to move. Do this for all items in your home, on all levels. Then store a copy of the record somewhere away from home, such as a safe deposit box.
- Practice and maintain your plan. Practicing your plan will help you instinctively make the appropriate response during an actual emergency. You will need to review your plan periodically and you may need to change some parts.
- Review your plan every six months so everyone remembers what to do.
- Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills at least twice a year.
- Replace stored food and water every six months. Replacing your food and water supplies will help ensure freshness.
- Use the test button to test your smoke detectors once a month. The test features test all electronic functions and is safer if necessary, replace batteries immediately. Make sure children know what your smoke detector sounds like.
- If you have a battery-powered smoke detector. Replace the batteries twice a year.
- Replace your smoke detector every 10 years. Smoke detectors become less sensitive over time. Replacing them every 10 years is a joint recommendation by the National Fire Protection Association and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
- Look at your fire extinguisher to ensure it is properly charged. Fire extinguishers will not work properly if they are not properly charged. Use the gauge or test button to check proper pressure. Follow manufacturer's instructions for replacement or recharging fire extinguishers. If the unit is low on pressure, damaged, or corroded, replace it or have it professionally serviced.
Information obtained from "Your Family Disaster Plan" brochure from the American Red Cross and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, (FEMA L-191, ARC 4466), September 1991