When it comes to emergency preparedness, it’s undoubtedly always best to be over-prepared rather than under-prepared. Sadly, with all the chaos of modern life, it can be all too easy to let your family’s emergency planning fall to the wayside. If you’re aware of what ground you’ll need to cover when it comes to setting up a realistic emergency preparedness plan, however, you can make this process as easy as ticking off items on a list.
We’ve put together a list of essential steps that families can take to make sure that they’re as ready as they can be in any kind of emergency, from blackouts to floods.
Invest in protection against natural disasters
Although it may feel impossible to be prepared for an ‘act of God’, it certainly does help to maintain an awareness of the weather-driven natural hazards that are most likely to pose a risk for your property. Protecting your home against natural disasters will mean investing in building insurance as well as structural or architectural supports like ventilation, and heat or fire resistant insulation and cladding, just to name a few.
For homes located within regions that possess an elevated risk of floods or cyclones, consider investing in floodwalls or levees for your property or even for your neighbourhood to reduce the likelihood of accruing damage caused by floodwaters. Homes in these regions are also more likely to possess wind-resistant structures. Families living in an older home that may boast outdated architectural design may opt to schedule a renovation or remodel to improve their home’s structural integrity in the face of adverse weather conditions.
Set up emergency communication procedures
In any given emergency situation, you’ll want to ensure that you and your loved ones maintain the ability to communicate with one another. Of course, emergencies like floods, electrical storms, or other extreme weather events, may inhibit families from being able to communicate via mobile due to damaged local cell towers and phone lines.
In these situations, it’s best to use emergency communication devices like UHF handheld radios and satellite phones. These devices can be stored both at home and in your car, just to ensure that you can stay connected with family in the event that an emergency occurs while you’re away from home.
Your family may also have emergency communication processes that involve social media or family group chats. Having a fully charged power bank on hand can be a lifesaver in any emergency situation. As is the case with UHF radios and satellite phones, power banks can be ready and available to use both in the home as well as in your personal vehicles.
Consider in your family’s unique circumstances
If any of your family members or loved ones are living with a disability or require the use of medical aids like medication, wheelchairs, crutches, CPAP machines or oxygen tanks, then their unique requirements will need to be factored into your shared emergency preparedness plan. Consider how you’d like for these aids to be transported in an emergency, and whether or not you may need to enlist the support of local emergency services.
Your local emergency service providers are likely to have accessibility roadmaps in place for the purpose of supporting people living with disabilities or chronic illnesses during natural disasters or other emergency events. In the event of road closures due to flooding or other natural disasters, you and your family should be able to utilise these services in order to get your loved ones to safety.
Alongside researching emergency services that are available to you, it’s also a good idea to consider transport logistics for yourselves, just in case of delays in communications and or the availability of emergency service providers. Personal vehicles can be fitted with a secondary wheelchair, oxygen tanks, or other medical aids in the event that machinery or aids kept in the home procure damage during an emergency situation.
Put together a household emergency kit
Speaking of essential items, it’s imperative that you and your family prepare a household emergency kit that caters to all emergency situations that you and your loved ones are most likely to experience. For example, many home emergency kits in Australia tend to include plenty of fire safety tools to be used in the event of a bushfire.
We’ve already mentioned a fair few items that are well worth adding to any emergency kit, these being walkie talkies, satellite phones, power banks, any medication for family members, and other first aid items like bandages, antiseptic wipes, hand sanitiser, painkillers, basic toiletries, as well as bottled water and electrolyte drinks, and non-perishable food items.
It’s also a good idea to include waterproof clothing and sensible footwear in your household emergency kit, just to ensure that you and your family are equipped to evacuate if need be. Flashlights with spare batteries and a compact toolbox are also valuable assets to have in a pinch.
Trial and review your emergency preparedness plan
Finally, all that should be left to do is put your emergency preparedness plan to the test by scheduling a trial run. This trial of your emergency plan doesn’t have to be totally comprehensive. In fact, it can be as simple as gathering everyone and everything you need together and timing how long this process will take.
Having a trial run can help you and your family pinpoint any potential obstacles or barriers that may complicate your family’s ability to evacuate promptly when faced with a genuine emergency. For example, if your household’s emergency kit is placed on a high shelf that may not be easily accessible to all adult or young adult family members, this could pose a serious risk in the event of an emergency. Similarly, you’ll want to factor in the distance from your home’s front and rear entrances and your cars, just to determine what distance you’ll be forced to cover by foot during an evacuation.
Families are also advised to monitor the condition of their home both throughout its interiors and across its facade to reduce the risk of experiencing damage caused by adverse weather conditions whenever they may hit. Staying vigilant and investing in your home’s maintenance is also a vital component of ensuring your family’s emergency preparedness.