September is National Preparedness Month. Does your family have a plan should disaster strike? FEMA reports that thousands of people are affected by disasters each year. Right here in my small town in Pennsylvania we had a tropical storm come through a few years ago that flooded tons of homes. It was a horrible. And a real eye-opener. You just never know.
I’ll admit that while we have things on hand here and there that we’d rely on should we lose power for an extended period of time but I don’t really have it all organized, nor have I inventoried it lately to see what’s missing. My mission this month as part of the Project Envolve program was to get my act together and make sure my family has a plan and the supplies we need should we have an emergency. I’ve got some great tips to share to help your family get your ducks in a row, too.
How to Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit
This isn’t too hard really. You don’t have to guess at what to include; you just need to gather it up! Check out this list to start your emergency preparedness kit to get started. Here are the things I made sure we have in ours:
- Nonperishable food items and a can opener.
- First aid kit
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- Pet food, litter, medications.
- Wet wipes and hand sanitizer
- Bottled water (one gallon per person for 3 days)
- Emergency Contact info (print and fill out the forms here)
- Battery operated radio
If you have a baby you’re going to want to make sure you have diapers, formula, etc. And don’t forget any medications you may need. It’s also a good idea to know how to operate your garage door if you lose power. That garage door opener won’t work anymore, so practice before you need to.
Creating an Emergency Plan
This is a really important piece of the pie. Having all the supplies on hand is important but there is a possibility your family won’t all be together at home when disaster hits. So download these forms and fill them out. Remember you may not have access to that online address book of phone numbers and if you’re like me, you won’t know a number in the world when your cell phone dies.
Our emergency plan including writing down important phone numbers: family, friends, and neighbors, plus our work and school information. We also decided on a meeting place in our neighborhood and one local spot that’s not quite as close to home. I think it’s a good idea to keep copies of these forms in your car and in your home.
Remember these tips:
- Make sure everyone in the family knows where your emergency plan and kit are located.
- Practice your plan!
- Have the number of your electric company so you can get updates.
- Have an out-of-town place to stay (with a friend or relative) should you need to leave your home. Don’t forget to have a plan for your pets or anyone with special needs.
And stay safe:
- Stay away from downed power lines.
- Don’t use a gas oven or range to heat your house.
- Unplug electronics that could be damaged when the power comes back on.
- Use flashlights instead of candles to avoid a fire hazard.
- Never run a generator inside where exhaust fumes can accumulate.
- Keep all electrical items away from standing water like a flooded basement.
Fighting Cabin Fever
The struggle is real. The few times we’ve been without power for a few hours my kids are bored to tears. You don’t realize how much you rely on all things electric until it’s not available. My kids like to play board games, Play-Doh, Legos, puzzles, and build blanket forts. We’ve even been known to pitch a tent in the middle of the living room floor and pretend we’re camping out! Here are a few more ideas for staving off cabin fever:
- Coloring books
- Flashlight tag
- Pictionary on a dry erase board
- Deck of cards
- Crafts, like making a pasta necklace
- Freeze dance
- Hide and seek
So what should you do next?
There is a ton of useful information on emergency preparedness here. Take the time to create your emergency preparedness kit and your emergency plan. You never know when you’re going to need this stuff and when the time comes, you’ll be so glad you have it.