EVERYONE NEEDS a Family Emergency Plan. It’s free. It takes less than a half hour.
No excuses, people.
We have already discussed the possibilities of power outages, utility shut-off procedures, house fires, and earthquakes. Before we keep going, let’s establish WHO we should call if we were separated from our family members and couldn’t get ahold of them, and WHERE we would go if our home was too dangerous to go back to.
Most of us probably haven’t experienced an emergency where we were separated from our family and unable to communicate with them. In a day where we can literally contact anyONE, at any TIME, it is almost incomprehensible that we would ever be put in a situation where that option would be taken from us. BUT…In the cases that we’ve already covered in Steps 1-6, there are already some instances where this could occur!!
There should be 2 sections in your PRINTED Family Emergency Plan.
I say printed because your Emergency Plan should cover all sorts of information. Don’t worry – we are getting to the point where I will provide you with a recap. It will be a checklist of things to go over as a family and ensure everything is up to standard and everyone knows what to do in certain emergencies. But you don’t want your Family Emergency Plan to be 20 pages long. Your kids aren’t going to be able to run and grab the Family Emergency Plan to read how to pop out the screen on their bedroom window if they wake up to a house fire.
So even though your Family Emergency Plan covers all sorts of things, most of them have already been covered or will be covered soon.
This post is just about collecting all emergency phone numbers and deciding on safe places.
1. EMERGENCY NUMBERS
This list should include:
- Poison Control
- Police Station (phone and address)
- Fire Department
- Hospital (phone and address)
- Electricity Company
- Gas Company
- Local Contact (phone and address)
- Out-of-State Contact (phone and address)
Why the local contact?
Having a local contact is important because if someone can’t get through to a family member, or if someone doesn’t have access to a phone, everyone would know who to contact (and go to their home if necessary), who could then give information on the rest of the family. I know this doesn’t seem very probable, but it happens. If there is a long-term power outage that accompanies a certain type of disaster and your phone is dead, how are you going to charge it to get in touch with your family? At least this way you would know where to go for information (assuming your home is unsafe).
Why an out-of-state contact?
If there were a local/statewide emergency, it may be easier to call out of state than in the area of the emergency. If phone lines are so tied up that you can’t contact your own family because you are all in the same city, having an out-of-state contact would be invaluable. But you’ve all got to know who that person is! It is also helpful to have a contact for other extended family to be able to call with questions and concerns, without bothering you, who is in the thick of the emergency situation.
2. SAFE PLACES
Where are your “safe meeting places” if you get separated in an emergency?
If your house catches fire in the middle of the night, and the fire is inbetween your bedroom and your kids’ bedroom, you already have a need for an emergency plan. Do your kids know what to do? Do they know how to get out of their bedroom window without your help? Hopefully they do by now, since you have done a thorough job with Step 3. But now what? Where should they go?
#1 – The first safe place you should designate is a place on your street, away from your house.
This way, the kids aren’t hanging out in the backyard watching their house burn to the ground, while you are frantically running up and down the street looking for them. Decide on a spot that everyone knows. It could be a specific neighbor’s driveway, the mailbox a few houses down, a certain corner, etc.
#2 – The second safe place should be close to your home, but not on your street.
This is in case your whole street isn’t safe. Try to pick somewhere familiar that is a couple streets away. A neighborhood park, a group of mailboxes, a friend’s house, etc.
#3 – The third safe place to establish should be a place outside your neighborhood.
What if your whole neighborhood is unsafe? It is good to have a friend’s house who lives a few neighborhoods away, a store, a church, or somewhere familiar to meet up.
#4 – The fourth and final safe place should be completely out of your region.
This would be a place where you could meet up if you or your spouse were traveling and couldn’t come home, due to disaster.
Just FYI, the Red Cross suggests picking 2 emergency meeting places…
- A place near your home
- A place outside your neighborhood.
I chose to add two more places on our plan, to get a little more specific. If you think that’s over-the-top, that’s okay. No hard feelings. You can go with what Red Cross says. I just like to be overly prepared.
3. Another thing to consider and talk about is the ROUTE to get to each safe place, and an alternate route, should your primary route be blocked
You can either write the different routes on your printed plan, or just talk about it with family members and make sure everyone knows alternate routes.
4. Where Should You Put Your Family Emergency Plan?
We have ours posted on our giant whiteboard calendar. It’s kind of like our family’s information station.
Just make sure everyone knows where it is, and that it is ALWAYS accessible and ALWAYS visible.
It isn’t a bad idea to stick a copy of it in each car’s glovebox also.
I can’t say that I’ve put a copy in each of the kids’ backpacks because I figure they won’t be released from school without a parent picking them up anyway. But I guess you never know, do you? … Again, wouldn’t be a bad idea…
That’s it! That’s Step 7. As I mentioned at the beginning, there’s a lot more to a Family Emergency Plan, but we’ve already covered a good amount of it. This is just a one-page summary with personalized important info on the topic. We will continue to cover other parts that your entire family should be a part of and be knowledgeable in, with the next few steps. I just felt like it was important to throw this in now because it is FREE, it is EASY, and it is just as important as all the other things we’re talking about!
CHECKLIST for Emergency Preparedness Step 7 – Family Emergency Plan
- Print out this FREE Printable Family Emergency Plan
- Or print out the updated Family Emergency Plan that uses less color ink 🙂
- Fill it out with your family
- Post it somewhere visible and accessible
- Move on to Step 8!
- If you haven’t seen Steps 1 – 6 to Emergency Preparedness, start with Emergency Preparedness Step 1 – Utility Shut-Off.