This is the Year You Finally Make an Emergency Plan
As we begin the new year and this new decade, we hope it will be the year you finally make an emergency plan. While we hope you will never have any need to use it, the saying goes, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.”
Sadly, most people are not prepared for the worst. According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), “Only 39 % of Americans have developed an emergency plan and discussed it with their family,” and “48 percent of Americans do not have emergency supplies for a disaster.”
While there are probably many individual reasons why Americans are not practicing emergency preparedness, one of the main reasons seems to be that they find it overwhelming. It feels scary to discuss potential disasters, and the idea of writing down a plan and packing a kit seems too difficult.
Our goal for this month’s newsletter is to show you how simple it can be to make an emergency plan. You can create your family’s emergency plan and discuss it at dinner one evening, and you can gather many basic supplies for your emergency kit at a local dollar store. It’s easier than you think!
What to Know in Advance
As you begin making your emergency plan, there are a few things you should know in advance. For example, it is critical to know the risks of where you live. Those who live in hurricane zones will have different emergency plans from those who live in earthquake zones.
Likewise, it is important to know your area's emergency alert systems and community warning signs. By understanding how your city officials alert residents about potential emergencies, you will be better prepared if and when the time comes.
Creating Your Family Emergency Plan
When it comes to creating your family emergency plan, the key is to focus on your family. Each family is unique, so your family’s needs will be unique. It is also wise to try not to overthink it. If there was an emergency, how would you get in touch with one another? Where would you go? What things would you have to take with you? By answering these simple questions, you are well on your way to creating an emergency plan for your family.
Here are the basic components of an emergency plan:
A plan for communication. Write out important phone numbers (school, work, police, etc.) and identify your emergency contacts and how you can contact them. Military One Source recommends, “Since it's often easier to call long distance during an emergency, pick an out-of-state relative as your family's emergency contact.” The American Red Cross has created a helpful wallet-size contact card for emergencies.
A plan for escape. Identify space spots and meeting places for your family. Designate a neighborhood meeting place, a close-by meeting place, and an out-of-town spot. Additionally, you should familiarize yourself with your escape routes from your home and your community’s evacuation routes.
A plan for health. Each family’s medical needs are different. You must have a plan for medicines and prescriptions that your family members will need in the event of an emergency.
A plan for packing. We’ll look at this in more detail in the next section since packing an emergency kit (or go-bag) is a critical component of an emergency plan.
As you are creating your family emergency plan, don’t forget to include an emergency plan for your four-legged family members.
Packing an Emergency Kit
FEMA explains, “Readiness can be as simple as having an emergency preparedness kit at hand, stowed in a convenient place known to all family members.” In many disaster events, you may be without power for several days, which is why it is critical to have supplies on hand. Here is FEMA’s list of basic supplies all families should include in their emergency kit:
A three-day supply of nonperishable food for every family member
A three-day supply of water for every family member (The Waterfull Barrel is THE perfect solution to your water preparedness effort!)
A manual can-opener
A battery-powered radio
A first-aid kit and required medications
Hygiene and personal-care items
Copies of important documents
Money – cash or a current credit card
A more detailed list of emergency kit supplies and instructions for building your own emergency kit can be found in Waterfull’s The Simple Essentials for Your Disaster Plan.
Technology Tools to Embrace in the New Year
Another quick and easy way to prepare in this new year is to embrace technology and apps designed for emergency preparedness. Forbes explains, “Practically everyone has a smartphone on them at all times, meaning one of the most useful tools when it comes to responding to a natural disaster is your phone. There are numerous apps targeted toward saving your life during an emergency.”
For example, social media has proven to be an enormous help during disaster situations. “Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, etc. have been widespread in disseminating information about a stranded person in a collapsed house or a lost pet. Social media allows emergency response crews to immediately connect with survivors and direct their attention accordingly.”
So, if you are not a fan of social media, it may be wise to have an account you can use it if you need to in the event of an emergency – even if you don’t use it regularly.
Additionally, many apps are lifesavers in the event of an emergency. For instance, there are apps designed to help you before, during and after an emergency. When you are making your emergency plan, here are some types of apps to go ahead and download:
A weather app
A first-aid app
An ICE (in case of emergency) contact app
A location tracker app
A local or state emergency app
The best emergency apps for wildfires, earthquakes and other disasters lists several outstanding emergency preparedness apps. Download them today and you are one step closer to keeping your family safe!
Also – Embrace text messaging if you haven’t already. In disaster situations, it is typically easier to send and receive text messages than phone calls.
Stay Connected to Stay Strong
Since this is the year you are finally making your emergency plan, it should also be the year you finally get to know your neighbors. Why? Well, research suggests that those who know their neighbors do better in disaster situations.
Pasadena Fire Department explains, “Statistics show that 70% of all survivors of disasters are rescued by other survivors. The neighbors living around you are your most immediate source of help.” It is the people closest to you who will be the ones who will be the first ones helping.
According to The New York Times, “Most of us are taught that in an emergency, first responders like police officers, emergency medical personnel and firefighters will be the first ones to get there and help victims. In reality, bystanders and neighbors are usually first — and in the best position to help save lives — especially after a disaster significant enough that it may take time for those emergency workers to arrive.”
Therefore, it is critical to know your neighbors! Know their names, their needs, and how to reach them in case of an emergency. Specifically, be on the lookout for the elderly, those with mobility issues, or those living alone.
Take it a step farther by hosting a neighborhood block party or emergency planning event! See the DIY Section of this month’s newsletter for ideas.
Don’t Forget to Do Yearly Updates
Finally, emergency preparedness is not a “one and done” activity. It is necessary to rotate your supplies and update your emergency plan yearly. This will prevent you from opening your kit, and discovering food has gone bad, or flashlights no longer work. Likewise, your contact list should be kept up to date to avoid calling wrong numbers.
Resolving in 2020 to create an emergency plan is one resolution you won’t regret. You can easily pull it off and feel proud of yourself for taking steps to ensure your family’s safety in the event of an emergency.
30 Gallons of Weight Off Your Shoulders
If you are looking for a last-minute gift, there is no better choice than a Waterfull Barrel. A Waterfull Barrel will ensure your loved one has emergency fresh water to drink when the need arises. It holds 1 gallon of water per person for 7 days for a family of four.
DIY: Host Your Own Neighborhood Disaster Preparation Block Party
Since knowing your neighbors is a huge component of an emergency plan, make a plan to meet your neighbors! One popular idea is to host your own neighborhood disaster preparation block party. This is easier than you think! Follow these steps, and you will host a successful emergency preparedness neighborhood get-together.
Set the date and time.
Invite the neighbors. Use invitations, post flyers, or send out an evite on your neighborhood website or the NextDoorsocial site.
Have everyone “sign-in” with their name, address, and phone number. Ta-da! Now you have a ready-to-go contact list in case of emergencies!
Feed the masses. If you want people to come, tell them there will be food. Have a barbecue or encourage a potluck style gathering.
Invite a speaker. Ask someone with emergency preparedness knowledge to speak at the event. Often, firefighters or other emergency response workers are willing to come and speak for a few minutes. Or, have someone do a short demonstration like how to operate a fire extinguisher or use a Waterfull Barrel.
Provide important information, such as emergency preparedness checklists or websites (such as The Simple Essentials for Your Disaster Plan).
Plan a future neighbor gathering to assemble emergency kits.
Waterfull Self-Refreshing Drinking Water Storage Barrel Receives Patent for Post-Disaster Survival
Waterfull was granted a United States patent from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in April 2019 for the company’s self-refreshing drinking water storage system that provides a week’s worth of drinking water for a family of 4 without requiring any maintenance by the owner.