During this time of forced homeschooling during the coronavirus quarantine, are you wondering how you can make the most of this time? Use this schedule and spend 10 minutes a day to not only get your family more prepared for various emergencies, but also, to teach your kids more about the things that really matter!
Welcome to the 10-Minute Emergency Preparedness Challenge: FAMILY EDITION!
Here is what you need to do before you start:
1 – Add this webpage 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!
2 – Subscribe to this website, using the form at the very bottom of this post.
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!
3- Check your email for your confirmation message, and sign up for the daily reminder emails to be delivered to your inbox every morning to remind you of your task for the day.
4 – Download the calendar
This is available on the page that will come up when you confirm your email address. If you are already a current subscriber, this calendar is available on the page that is for subscribers only (I include this link in every newsletter).
- Each day has a task/tasks that will take you less than 15 minutes to complete.
- Do the tasks in order…a few of the tasks require previous ones to be completed.
- Most of the tasks are FREE! The first few days will cost money, but these purchases are essential for the tasks later in the month, so DO NOT SKIP them. I made sure that all of these things are able to be purchased on Amazon, and left at least a week between the day you should be ordering these items, and the day you will need them, to allow ample time for shipping.
Come back here every day for the links and information you’ll need for that day.
**This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on a link and make a purchase, I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you**
Are you ready? Here we go with DAY 1!
Day 1 – Monday, May 4th
1 – 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.
2 – Measure the valves that you turn in order to shut off your gas and water.
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.
3 – Purchase a utility shut off tool, making sure it will fit the valves on your utilities.
This is the shutoff tool we have (affiliate link). It is $13.09 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.
Day 2 – Tuesday, May 5th
1 – 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 (affiliate link), and is only $27.79 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.
2 – Purchase a fire extinguisher for each level of your home at a minimum (especially your kitchen!)
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 (affiliate link) 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!
Day 3 – Wednesday, May 6th
1 – 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!
This 4-pack (affiliate link) is a great deal and will cover a fridge/freezer combo in your house as well as one in the garage (if you have one out there). I like these ones because they are a nice size, easy to read, and have a stand to stand up on a shelf and a hook to hook them on a bar. The only downside is these require batteries, and batteries need to be replaced occasionally…I have not loved that part of this one that we have.
If you are looking for a battery-free option, this one (affiliate link) is a good choice – we have this one in our garage fridge.
2 – Purchase a manual can opener if yours is electric.
Again, we are getting ready for our POWER OUTAGE day in our last week of the month. You want to be sure you have a manual can opener (or two) in your home at all times.
This is my favorite manual can opener (affiliate link).
Day 4 – Thursday, May 7th
1 – Round up all flashlights and lanterns you have in your home. Test them all and replace batteries as needed.
2 – Purchase enough flashlights/lanterns to have a minimum of one per room. Purchase all batteries needed to have backups for all flashlights/lanterns.
Figure out how many more flashlights/lanterns 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 (affiliate link) 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. We bought two of these 6-packs, and took care of each kid having their own flashlight in their rooms (under/next to their beds), as well as one for each family member in our kitchen/living room area.
If you are interested in a hands-free source of direct light, headlamps are a great option. This is my favorite pick for headlamps (affiliate link). 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 lanterns and love them (affiliate link). 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!!!! I buy our batteries at Costco, so if you’re like me, 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.
Day 5 – Friday, May 8th
Today is a printing day. Don’t worry about filling anything out on any of these things you are printing off. Just get the printing done. I recommend printing all of these on white card stock (affiliate link). You can use normal paper, but I just love the feel of card stock and it helps things last longer. However, if you plan on laminating these or putting them in sheet protectors, regular paper should be just fine.
PS – if you are looking for an awesome laminator that has literally lasted me over 10 years, this is it (affiliate link).
One of the best purchases I have ever made!
1 – 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.
2 – Print out the “House Safety” printable below.
Click download and then click print. Then put it in a safe place for the next couple weeks, because we will be referring back to it and filling a few things out.
3 – Print the “Home & Fire Safety” printable below.
4 – Print the “Family Emergency Plan” printable below.
Find somewhere safe to keep these documents for the next 3 weeks, because we will be using them and filling them out/checking things off occasionally.
Day 6 – Monday, May 11th
Practice operating your garage door manually (WITH your older kids).
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 last week. I also added a couple quick videos to show you how to do it in my Instagram stories. It is also available in the Highlight Bubble, “Covid-19.”
I’ve also included them here. The first one is 25 seconds. The second one is 17 seconds.
Go practice this with your older kids and make sure each of you can do it!
Day 7 – Tuesday, May 12th
Locate all of your electricity shut off options and fill out the “Electricity Shut Off” section of the printable (WITH your older kids).
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 last week!
Day 8 – Wednesday, May 13th
1 – Practice shutting off the water (WITH your older kids).
You should have your shut off tool by now if you ordered it on Amazon.
You should also already know where your water shut off is, from last Monday’s task.
To turn off your water, 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.
2 – Fill out the “Water Shut Off” and “Gas Shut Off” sections of the printable.
3 – 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.
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!
Day 9 – Thursday, May 14th
1 – Get your fire escape ladders ready for use and find an accessible place in each room to store them.
**You could include your kids in this task, or you can just do it by yourself. You will be teaching them how to use the fire ladders in Week 4. But if you need to rearrange things in their bedrooms to accomplish today’s task, it wouldn’t hurt to include them in this process**
You should already have your fire ladders from your purchase on Day 2.
Make sure they are EASILY ACCESSIBLE!!
Fire escape ladders are heavy. Keep that in mind when finding a place for them. Ours are all at floor-level in each room, so that each of our kids can easily access them.
A great way to store these, is in a storage ottoman like this one. Not only does it hide the awkward eye sore of a fire ladder, but it also doubles as a seat in each room, and more importantly, a stool (see #2 below).
Mine is a 17″ cube. The inside dimensions are 14.5 X 14.5, and it fits the fire ladder perfectly (it certainly doesn’t require that much height, but it needs that length and width to fit flat). So if you don’t want the fire ladder just laying on the floor, make sure you acquire something that will be large enough to fit the ladder in.
**Helpful tip: faux leather or plastic cleans up a lot easier than fabric, so if this is going in a child’s room, keep that in mind…**
2 – If any children in your home would need a stool to climb out any of their bedroom windows (regardless of which floor of the home the room is in), find or purchase a stool for each of those windows.
A few years ago I decided it was time to actually physically walk around the house with my kids and teach them about fire safety. It wasn’t until then that I realized they didn’t even know how to unlock their bedroom windows. They also couldn’t reach the locks, nor lift themselves high enough to get out. We were living in a one-story house, and I still hadn’t provided my kids with the tools they would need to get themselves out of their bedroom windows, should the need arise.
You will be walking around your house with your kids in Week 4, so it is important that you purchase any stools you might need TODAY, if you plan on purchasing online. The storage ottomans I mentioned above are a great option, especially if you are needing somewhere to store a fire ladder. If you are looking for a more kid-like storage ottoman, this looks like it would fit the fire ladder, and I think it’s super cute! *Please note – I do not have this. I am just trying to give you different storage ideas and options.
Day 10 – Friday, May 15th
1 – Mount all fire extinguishers to the wall in your home.
You should already have fire extinguishers in your possession (this was Day 2’s task). Most fire extinguishers come with mounting equipment and instructions.
**Helpful tip: 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**
2 – If you already had fire extinguishers previous to this month, perform maintenance on them.
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.
Day 11 – Monday, May 18th
Be sure to include your kids today. Teaching them how to test the smoke alarms is a great way to show them that these things don’t take care of themselves. You could even let them take turns pushing the test button. And of course, everyone in the house will want to cover their ears!
1 – 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 🙂
Every smoke alarm is different, but most of them run on one 9-volt battery. This is what a 9-Volt battery looks like.
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!
2 – Purchase backup batteries for your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide sensors.
They will go on a coupon at Costco every few months, so that’s a great time to grab a pack!
You want to have these BEFORE you need them. Have you ever heard the high-pitched, annoying chirp that a smoke detector makes? That is to alert you that the battery is low and needs to be changed, and it ALWAYS happens in the middle of the night! You don’t want to have to wait til morning to go to the store to buy a 9-Volt battery, so do yourself (and your whole household) a favor, and keep these on-hand!
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.
3 – ALL SMOKE DETECTORS should be completely replaced every 10 years!
If you have passed or are approaching that 10-year mark, put it on your list of things to do in the VERY near future to look into purchasing new smoke detectors. Or better yet, go do it today! For more help on this topic, see my comprehensive post on preparing for house fires.
Day 12 – Tuesday, May 19th
**You will discuss this with your kids next week, so if you would rather do today on your own, that’s fine. But it also wouldn’t hurt to read about what a Family Emergency Plan is with your older kids, to give them a little more understanding of it. They could also be included in deciding the information that you will write on yours. But don’t worry about teaching your younger kids about this quite yet – we’ll get there next week!**
1 – Read about the “Family Emergency Plan.“
2 – Fill out your Family Emergency Plan.
You printed it on Day 5 and now you are filling it out today!
3 – Find somewhere visible to hang your Family Emergency Plan.
We have ours hanging on our huge wall calendar. If you have a family command center, that would be a great place to put it. The side of the fridge works too (you have already mounted a fire extinguisher and hung CPR instructions up…see if there is a place next to one of those for your Family Emergency Plan).
Day 13 – Wednesday, May 20th
Teach your older kids about CPR.
Go through the instructions you printed out 2 Fridays ago (Day 5).
Be sure to point out the differences in CPR procedures with a baby vs a toddler vs an adult.
Day 14 – Thursday, May 21st
1 – Make a list of consumables (food, baby needs, feminine products, personal hygiene items, etc.) to last 2 weeks (minimum).
Should you involve your kids in this process? Absolutely! In fact, you can count on them to come up with a few things you would have missed, had you NOT included them! It’s also beneficial for them to think through all of the things they use/consume on a daily/weekly basis.
You don’t have to go out and buy these things today; in fact, that would be nearly impossible given the current circumstances we are all living under, with Covid-19.
All we are doing today is making a master list to have as a reference when you are going to the store. This will get you organized so you can quickly look over your master list before running errands, and add anything to your grocery/Target/etc lists that you are low on.
So think of today’s task as making a list that you will reference every time you plan on going to the store. I have mine hanging on my Lists Whiteboard by my grocery and store lists. Before I grab my Target list, I look over my consumables list and add anything that has fallen under a month’s supply.
That way, if anything like this ever happens again, we are a little more prepared. 2 weeks is a minimum. As we have seen with the coronavirus, quarantine is real, and it can also last a lot longer than 2 weeks. If this virus were more serious, there is a good chance we wouldn’t even be able to go to the grocery store. I am kind of viewing the current “stay-at-home order” as a training ground for what could happen in the future.
So pretend you were gearing up for a more serious quarantine in the future. What would you need, in order to stay home and not go out AT ALL? Think of the things you have had to run out and grab during the past month. That will give you a really good start.
Here are some ideas of things to include in your list:
A printable version is available for download just below the picture 🙂
2 – Add anything to your normal shopping list that you are currently missing or low on.
If you are depleted and are out of almost everything on your list, don’t worry. You can start small and just pick up a few things the next time you go out, and slowly build up your 2-week supply of everything.
If you already have a 2-week supply, bump it up to 4 weeks. If you have enough of every single thing to last you 4 weeks, bump it up to 6, etc.
Just do what your space and budget allow, and take comfort knowing that you are being proactive about being better prepared!
3 – Put your master list somewhere where you will see it every time you make your grocery/other store lists.
Day 15 – Friday, May 22nd
You can involve your young children in this process, but you may just want to ask them for their couple items to contribute to the list and do the rest of it yourself. However, as the majority of the tasks the past couple weeks, I would recommend involving your older children in this entire process.
Remember: This is the BEST time ever to teach your kids about emergency preparedness. We are literally in the middle of a worldwide pandemic! AND we are all stuck at home! If not now, when?!
1 – Read about what a Grab List is and how to organize it
I already have an in-depth post about how I made our grab list and what’s on it, how to organize it, etc. Go read that and then come back here.
2 – Download and print this helpful file
I have compiled a cheat sheet of notes to help you make your own Grab List.
- Page 1 – a summary of the post linked above
- Page 2 – a list of things you may want to include in your Grab List
- Page 3 – our family’s actual Grab List, so you can see a completed list
- Page 4 – our family’s Grab List with only headings if you’d like to use it as a template
3 – Prepare your family’s Grab List
Everyone’s grab list looks different. Use the above file to help you create your own Grab List.
Day 16 – Monday, May 25th
Download, print, and discuss the “Power Outages” printable below with your kids of ALL AGES.
Day 17 – Tuesday, May 26th
Download, print, and discuss the “House Fires” printable below with your kids of ALL AGES.
Here is a very impromptu video, taken on a Sunday morning, with half the kids still in pajamas, half of them already dressed for church, you get the idea. Like I said, this was impromptu. But I wanted to give you a REAL LIFE trial run! I would highly recommend doing this today. There is so much value in doing practice runs so that in the event of an emergency, everyone knows what to do, and they know they CAN do it. Because they’ve done it before.
Day 18 – Wednesday, May 27th
Download, print, and discuss the “Family Emergency Plan” printable guide below with your ENTIRE household.
You printed out your actual Family Emergency Plan on Day 5 and filled it out on Day 12. If you skipped either of those steps, scroll up and do that now.
Day 19 – Thursday, May 28th
Download, print, and discuss the “Earthquakes” printable below with your kids of ALL AGES.
Decide what on the “Extra” section you would like to work on as a family. Since this challenge ends tomorrow, this is a good time to decide where to go next with your preparedness efforts.
Day 20 – Friday, May 29th
1 – Download, print, and discuss the “Grab List” printable below with your kids of ALL AGES.
You should have made your actual Grab List last Friday (Day 15). Use today to make any necessary revisions, teach the rest of your family about evacuation, and then practice it.
2 – Download, print, and take a family selfie with the sign below.
CONGRATULATIONS!!!!!!!!!! You made it to the end of the challenge! Wasn’t that easy?!
Now go enjoy the weekend, knowing you have increased your family’s level of preparedness this past month!
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: