Recently, our cousin’s neighborhood was ravaged by a tornado. Fortunately, his family is safe and his house didn’t receive much damage. However, many of his neighbors’ homes were damaged and some were completely destroyed. Four people died in the storm, and many were injured.
Our family, along with our church family, gathered supplies and delivered them to the community.
This got me thinking…
In this case, the emergency was a tornado, but for general emergency preparedness, ready.gov suggests the following:
- Make a family emergency communication plan and include your pets. We parent a busy household with many ages. We’re not always together. Decide on a meeting place–both in your yard and in your neighborhood in case you can’t stay in your yard. In case of being separated during an emergency, have a plan. Practice it, and stick to it.
- Identify an out of town emergency contact to coordinate information with family/friends. Decide ahead of time who to call during an emergency. Make sure this number is programmed into everyone’s phone and everyone knows when and why to call. This person can update family and friends of your safety, and you can conserve your phone battery. (This is a real need when there’s no electricity.)
- Check on neighbors. Before an emergency, get to know your neighbors. And during an emergency, definitely check on them. We were blessed to see our cousin and many others doing this very thing during and after the tornado. “Transplants”, those not originally from Mississippi, repeatedly told my husband how blessed they were to be a part of that community, how people don’t behave that way where they’re from… People need people, y’all.
- Keep an emergency kit wherever you spend time: home, car, work etc. So if you’re like me, you ask, “What’s supposed to be in that emergency kit? Will a first-aid kit do?” Well, a first-aid kit is definitely part of the kit, but it’s suggested that you pack
much more than that. A downloadable PDF checklist is available at the National Fire Protection Association’s website. (By the way, has anyone ever packed one of these?)
- Download the FEMA App and set up local alerts. The app is easily downloadable from the FEMA website.
- Listen to local officials by radio, TV, or social media and take action. This one is self-explanatory, and one I think most of us don’t have to think too much about.
- Practice your preparedness plans with a drill or exercise. It’s best to practice every six months, especially with your kids. They need the reminder, and so do you. This is also a good time to check and update the contents of your emergency kit, and check the functionality of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Take a first aid class so you can help until first responders arrive. Our local hospital offers classes. Some colleges offer them, and I’ve even seen the offered at some churches. If none of these options are available to you, check out the Red Cross’s website for class offerings. And may I just encourage you…? If you have kids, PLEASE take a first aid and CPR class. You never know when you may need it.
And specifically for the kids, Sparky the Firedog has a website filled with emergency preparedness information in a fun, non-scary format.
Because we’ve been foster parents, we have all the smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. We’ve been through CPR and First Aid classes. We have a fire extinguisher on each floor of our home, and a drop-down ladder on the second floor. We have an evacuation plan that our kids are familiar with, and we have out-of-town emergency contacts in our phones.
The one area where we’re lacking is the emergency preparedness kit. The practicality of it (or the impracticality) has caused me to procrastinate about putting one together. But after seeing the devastation brought on by this tornado, I think it’s time to put one together even though I hope we’ll never need it.
How about you? Are you prepared for an emergency? What have you done to prepare your children? Is there something that you would add to this list? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.