5-Minute Emergency Preparedness Challenge: Free Printable
September is National Emergency Preparedness Month! So I thought it would be fitting to make a fun little challenge to help you increase your level of preparedness for various emergencies. But we’re all busy. So how does LESS THAN 5 minutes a day sound? Can you do that? Of course you can! You got this!
Welcome to the 5-Minute Emergency Preparedness Challenge!
Download the 5-Minute Emergency Preparedness Challenge Calendar below!
- Each day has a task that will take you less than 5 minutes to complete.
- Do the tasks in order…a few of the tasks require previous ones to be completed.
- Check back here every day, because I will add a section to THIS POST each day, with any further instructions/helps/links that you need to complete that day’s task.
- Most of the tasks are FREE! There are a few that cost money, and almost all of those things are able to be purchased on Amazon.
**This post contains affiliate links; using my links helps to support my blogging and my family at no extra cost to you.**
Are you ready? Here we go with DAY 1!
- Add this website to your favorites so you can refer back to it throughout this month.
- If you are using Chrome as your web browser, click on the star in the upper right corner of the address bar. A box will appear, saying “Bookmark Added.” Click DONE. You should now see a little clipboard in your Favorites Bar, labeled “Plan for Awesome.” That’s it!
- If you are using an iPhone, click on the little send icon at the bottom of your screen right now (the square with the arrow pointing upward). Click on “Add to Favorites” on the far left side (it also has a star). Now it is saved in your favorites!
- Subscribe to this blog, using the form below. As soon as you fill out the form, go check your email to confirm your subscription. If you do not see a confirmation email in your inbox, check your junk mail, and mark it as safe!
That’s it! You’re done with Day 1! That wasn’t so bad, was it? See you tomorrow ?
Locate your gas and water shut offs.
Your gas meter will likely be somewhere in your front/ side yard, in front of your gate; the gas company needs to have access to it, so it shouldn’t be tucked away in your backyard. Ours is on the side of our front yard.
If you live in a warm climate, the water shut off is under that big cement rectangle in your front yard. If you live in colder climates, the water shut off is probably in the basement either in the wall or on the water pipe leading to the water heater.
That’s it for now….your 5 minutes are up, so get back to your day! I just wanted to make sure you knew where those were.
Measure the valves that you turn in order to shut off your gas and water.
*For a short video to help you with this step, go find me on Instagram, and it will be in the Highlight Bubble titled, “5-Minute Challenge.”
For your gas, measure the little knob on the side of the meter. This is what you turn, in order to shut off your gas. You will need the measurement to make sure the shut off tool that you order tomorrow will fit around the valve.
Your water shut off may have a little handle already that you just turn, in which case, you don’t need to take measurements.
If it looks like the picture below, measure the knob.
Purchase a utility shut off tool, making sure it will fit the valves on your utilities.
This is the shutoff tool we have. It is $13.75 today on Amazon. It’s a fairly universal tool, designed to work for standard gas and water meters. Having said that, it does not work for every single gas and water meter. Check the measurements you took yesterday an make sure this tool will fit around your valves.
The hole for the gas shut off on this particular tool is 1.5 by .5 inches.
The notch that is used for the water shut off on this tool, has a width of 5/8 inches.
If this shutoff tool is the wrong size, you can get away with a pair of heavy-duty pliers. Whichever way you go, make sure you purchase a tool specifically for this. Even if you already have a pair of large pliers at your house, get another one dedicated specifically for shutting off your utilities, because you are going to need to store these in a different place from the rest of your tools.
That’s it! Have a great day!
Print out the “House Safety” printable below.
If you have card stock, I would recommend printing it on that.
And that’s your task for today. That’s all. I know. It’s so easy it feels wrong, doesn’t it? But it’s oh, so right. Go ahead and click download and then click print. Then put it in a safe place for the next few days, because we will be referring back to it, and filling a few things out over the next few days. Have a good one. ?
Practice operating your garage door manually.
If your power is out and you need to leave your house, you will want to know how to disconnect the garage door from the automatic features, and manually pull it up.
Instructions for doing this are on the “House Safety” printable that you printed yesterday. I also added a quick video to show you how to do it in my Instagram Highlight Bubble, titled, “5-Minute Challenge.”
Go practice this and make sure you can do it!
Locate all of your electricity shut off options and fill out the “Electricity Shut Off” section of the printable.
There are usually two places that provide a way to turn off the electricity.
Electrical Circuit Box
You’re probably already familiar with the electrical circuit box. It’s where you go when you need to flip a breaker switch when you have tripped a circuit by running too much electricity in a certain place in your house. These switches are located in the electrical circuit box, usually either in your basement, laundry room or mudroom, garage, or even outside your home. I was shocked to find it on the outside wall of our home, accessible to anyone! If this is the case, I would strongly recommend putting a lock on it.
The breakers will either be switches or pushmatic. Most newer units are switches, that switch from left to right. If you have pushmatic circuit breakers, you just push on them and they pop out and then push in when pushed again.
To turn off electricity to your home, it is recommended to first turn off each individual breaker and then the main one, usually located at the top.
***If any of your circuit breakers are not labeled, contact an electrician to come out and label everything for you, BEFORE you need the information!***
When turning electricity back on, make sure all of the individual breakers are switched to off. Turn on the main one at the top first, and then turn on the individual breakers, a few at a time.
Electrical Service Panel
The Electrical Service Panel is different from your electrical circuit box. The Electrical Service Panel has a meter on it. It is usually located on the outside of your home, either in the back or the side yard.
This has individual breakers for each 220 Volt circuit, as well as the 110 Volt circuits on the outside of your home. In addition to these, there is a main switch, usually labeled “Emergency Disconnect,” “Service Panel Disconnect,” or “Main Shutoff.” By switching this, you will cut off ALL power to your home. In an emergency, this is the quickest way to cut all power to your home.
So….go find your Electrical Circuit Box and your Electrical Service Panel and fill out the “Where” and “How” on the “House Safety” sheet you printed yesterday!
Ensure that the utility shut off tool fits your gas and water shut off valves.
You should have your shut off tool by now if you ordered it on Amazon.
Practice shutting off the water.
To turn it off, lift up the cement block, and twist the valve clockwise until it won’t turn anymore. If it has a handle, you won’t need the tool, and if it doesn’t have a handle, you’ll need the tool.
DO NOT PRACTICE SHUTTING OFF THE GAS. THIS MAY RESULT IN YOUR GAS COMPANY NEEDING TO COME OUT AND TURN IT BACK ON. Just put the shut off tool over the valve to make sure it will do the job if needed.
Fill out the “Water Shut Off” and “Gas Shut Off” sections of the printable.
Slip the “House Safety” printable in a sheet protector (or laminate it). Find a place in your garage or home to put the emergency shut off tool & printable. Hang them together in the designated spot.
This one is pretty self explanatory. Just MAKE SURE this is a VISIBLE, CONVENIENT SPOT. If you have an emergency where you need to use this tool, you do not want to be running around trying to find it. This is SO important!
For a quick video, go to my Instagram Highlight Bubble, titled, “5-Minute Challenge” and skip ahead to September 9th.
That’s it! Just hang them up and you’re done! ❤️
Round up all flashlights and lanterns you have in your home. Test them all and replace batteries as needed.
That’s it! Leave them in a pile until tomorrow.
But in case this is driving you crazy…I’m gonna give you tomorrow’s right now.
Purchase enough flashlights/lanterns to have a minimum of one per room. Purchase all batteries needed to have backups for all flashlights/lanterns.
Yesterday’s task was to gather up all of the flashlights and lanterns you already have. Figure out how many more you want to have in your home for emergencies/power outages. I would recommend a minimum of one per room in your home.
I like this variety pack of flashlights because you get 6 flashlights for $14.99. Each flashlight is a different color, making it fun for kids to pick their color and keep track of their very own flashlight. I also like their small size, making it convenient to keep them in a drawer, next to a bed, etc.
If you are interested in a hands-free source of direct light, headlamps are a great option. This is my favorite pick for headlamps. It’s comfy, waterproof, and as stylish as possible, given what it is.
Lanterns are worth their weight in gold during a power outage. We have these ones, but Amazon is saying they are out of stock. These look good to me…there are lots of different brands out there, but they essentially do the same thing. They are small, inexpensive, only take a few AA batteries, and they even have convenient handles on the top that can also be used as hooks to hang them up. They’re also magnetized on the bottom (we store ours on the side of our fridge).
All of these flashlights and lanterns are only going to be useful if you have batteries for them! DO NOT OVERLOOK THE BATTERIES!!!! And I have good news for you: Duracell AA and AAA batteries are on a coupon this month at Costco (September 2019)! So be sure to snag a couple packs on your next Costco run!! Go put batteries on your Costco (or other store) shopping list RIGHT NOW.
Okay, that’s all for today! ?
Purchase a thermometer to keep in each fridge and each freezer you have.
Why on earth is this part of an emergency preparedness challenge?!
Because if you experience a power outage that is longer than 4 hours, there is a good chance your refrigerated food will not be safe to eat afterward. If the power is out for longer than a couple days, the food in your freezer will likely need to be thrown out. Having a thermometer in each will allow you to know the temperature inside your fridge and freezer at the time power is restored.
You will want to “discard any perishable food (such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or leftovers) that has been at temperatures above 40° F for 2 hours or more (or 1 hour if temperatures are above 90º F).”(https://www.fda.gov/media/72124/download)
Be sure to get a thermometer for each fridge and freezer that you own. Don’t forget the ones in the garage!
I like this thermometer. It is a nice size, easy to read, and has a stand to stand it up on a shelf and a hook to hook it on a bar. If you are looking for a cheaper option, this one does the job. It’s not as fancy, but it’s kind of nice that it doesn’t have batteries…
Add bottled or canned drinks to your fridge(s) and add bags of ice to your freezer(s) to keep them full.
A full fridge/freezer stays colder longer than a half-empty one. Basically, the more cold stuff that a fridge or freezer starts out with during a power outage, the longer everything in it will stay cold.
An easy way to keep a full fridge is to fill empty space with water bottles or other drinks. An easy way to keep a freezer full is to add bags of ice to empty spaces. I’m not suggesting that you go out and buy ice…just fill some gallon-size Ziploc bags with ice from your own freezer, and stick those bags in empty spaces.
There are two side benefits to doing this:
- You always have cold drinks to grab on the go
- You always have extra ice on hand when you need it.
It really is a win-win.
Then if you end up needing the space that you’ve filled, just throw away the ice, or take out the drinks, and nothing lost! Rather than doing this just one time, try to make this a habit!
**TIP: If you don’t want to keep bags of ice, you can also fill an empty 2-liter bottle or gallon ice cream bucket with water and stick it in the empty spot in your freezer.
Make a list of necessary consumables (food, baby needs, feminine products, personal hygiene items, etc.) to last 2 weeks. Add anything to your normal shopping list that you are missing or low on.
You don’t have to go out and buy these things today; just having them on your normal shopping list is a step in the right direction. Depending on budget and the amount of things you need to purchase to have a 2 weeks’ supply, you can just buy a few things over the next several times you go to the store, or knock it all out on your next shopping trip. The important thing is that it’s written down and you are working toward having 2 weeks’ worth of supplies.
Some ideas of things to include in your list:
- Baby Needs (diapers, wipes, formula, baby food)
- Hygiene Items (toilet paper, tampons/pads, shampoo, conditioner, soap, hand soap, deodorant, toothpaste)
- Other Household Items (paper towels, Clorox wipes)
- Paper and plastic dinnerware, so you don’t have to do dishes
- First Aid Supplies
- Medicines (prescriptions as well as over the counter pain reliever, fever reducer, cold medicine, etc)
- Food (nonperishable items that don’t require power to prepare would be ideal…cans of soup, Spaghettios, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, canned chicken, tuna, granola bars, protein bars, crackers, jerky, dried fruit)
- Water (1 gallon of water per person per day)
Print out CPR instructions. Put them in a sheet protector or laminate them and hang them somewhere in your kitchen/command center.
If you don’t mind a few pages, these two different ones from the Red Cross are excellent.
Adult CPR from the Red Cross: Print pages 2-6
Pediatric CPR from the Red Cross: Print pages 2-6
If you MUST have it all on one page, this is a good one. However…I will say, while this seems self explanatory now, I feel like the Red Cross ones are much more effective with the visual of the pictures. If you are freaking out in an emergency situation (or one of your kids or a babysitter is freaking out trying to administer CPR), I feel like the Red Cross ones may be more helpful.
Just consider the dynamics in your home, and do what’s best for you. I decided to go with the Red Cross ones. I laminated each page and attached them all together with a little ring that keeps them together. That way I didn’t have to sacrifice information for space necessarily.
Decide where you will keep your flashlights and lanterns and make sure all members of your household know where they are.
This one is pretty easy! I like to have one flashlight in each bedroom. That way if someone is in a bedroom alone, they can at least grab a flashlight and meet up with the rest of the family in another part of the house. So we have one in each room and then we have a couple lanterns on the side of our fridge, and a drawer in our kitchen with extra flashlights for everyone.
However you choose to store them/divide them up, make sure everyone knows the permanent place that is designated for each flashlight/lantern!
Test all smoke alarms in your home. Change batteries as needed.
Each alarm should have a test button. Get a ladder, push the test button, and plug your ears ?
It is recommended to replace the batteries once a year. However, as I mentioned, there is usually a built-in chirp to let you know when the battery is low.
ALL SMOKE DETECTORS should be completely replaced every 10 years!
Here is a video, showing you what our smoke detectors look like, how to test them, and how to change the batteries in them. EASY PEASY!
Purchase backup batteries for your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors.
As shown in yesterday’s video, most smoke alarms require 9-Volt batteries. I get ours at Costco. They go on a coupon quite frequently, so I always make sure to check our battery stash when I see them on sale at Costco, and replenish when they are at their cheapest!
Purchase a fire escape ladder for each room of the upper level(s) of your home, if applicable.
This is obviously only something you need if you live in a multi-level home/building. I haven’t had to worry about this until moving to our current house. It’s something you may not have thought of, that could save lives!!!
The exact ladder that we have can be found HERE on Amazon. And it’s at a really great price today! ??Be sure to get the correct length…this link is for a ladder for a 2 story home. There is an option for a 3 story ladder on this link as well.
If you have fire extinguishers, perform maintenance on them. If you don’t have any, purchase one for each level of your home, especially in the kitchen.
Performing Maintenance on Fire Extinguishers
Fire extinguishers are pretty low maintenance. Some require you to shake them once a month, but ours doesn’t. Most of them will have a pressure gauge that you should check monthly, to make sure it is at the correct pressure. While checking the pressure, you should inspect the can, hoses, and nozzles, to ensure they aren’t dented, damaged, or rusted. You should also keep it clean from dust or oil.
Purchasing Fire Extinguishers
There are several types of fire extinguishers.
- A – For use with ordinary materials like cloth, wood, and paper
- B – For use with combustible and flammable liquids like grease, gasoline, oil, and oil-based paints
- C – For use with electrical equipment like appliances, tools, or other equipment that is plugged in
- D – For use with flammable metals
- K – For use with vegetable oils, animal oils, and fats in cooking appliances
There are multipurpose fire extinguishers that are labeled “B-C” or “A-B-C.” This is the type I would recommend to get for your home. At the very least, you should have one on each level of your home. DEFINITELY IN THE KITCHEN!
Print the “Home & Fire Safety” printable and the “Family Emergency Plan.“
Read about the “Family Emergency Plan.“
Fill out the “Family Emergency Plan.“
That’s it! Easy enough! You printed it on September 21st, you read about it on September 22nd, and now you are filling yours out today!
Get your fire escape ladders ready for use and find an accessible place in each room to store them.
Make sure they are EASILY ACCESSIBLE!!
Mount all fire extinguishers to the wall in your home.
Consider the height of the shortest responsible child in your home and mount the fire extinguishers low enough for that child to be able to use them if necessary.
Discuss the “Home and Fire Safety” printable with all household members.
You can skip over the Family Emergency Plan part of this printable if you’d like to break it up, because tomorrow’s task is to go over the Family Emergency Plan. But if you’d like to do it all today, you’ll get a break tomorrow! 😘
Discuss the “Family Emergency Plan” printable with all household members.
Purchase a manual can opener if yours is electric.
This is my favorite manual can opener.
Find a spot (preferably inside your home) to put a case of disposable water bottles for each member of your household.
Just clear a spot in a closet, under a bed, etc. That’s it!
Purchase a case of disposable water bottles for each member of your household.
You cleared a spot in your home yesterday to put these, so today is the day to go purchase them and put them away!
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! You made it to the end of the month! Wasn’t that easy?!
Now go enjoy the holidays, knowing you have increased your family’s level of preparedness in September!
But remember to come back and tackle other emergency preparedness items, big and small. I suggest tackling one new emergency preparedness related “project” once a quarter.
Some of the most popular ones are:
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