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Post Harvey-Irma Wake Up Call: Is Your Family's Emergency Plan Ready To Roll?

You don’t have to live in the hurricane belt to be prepared for extreme emergency situations and have a plan in place to overcome them.

Every family should prepare themselves and their home for emergencies, even if you live safely away from coastal towns and cities, because other disasters can still occur.

Disasters come in many forms – natural and man-made, and can strike with little or no notice, leaving behind the devastation of lives lost, serious injury, and the loss of our homes and livelihood. 

This September, National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans about the focus on planning, with the all-encompassing theme “Disasters Don’t Plan Ahead. You Can.”

8 Tips to Help Prepare for a Natural Disaster

If you think you live in a disaster-free zone, you’re probably wrong. Understanding all natural disaster scenarios that are likely to affect your home or surrounding areas is essential to having an effective and updated emergency plan.

1. Know what you’ll face. Part of preparation is knowing exactly what kind of disasters you might face and knowing what to do in each situation.

  • Living in California? Know recommended guidelines for earthquake disaster preparations.
  • Living in the Midwest? Know recommended guidelines for tornado disaster preparations.
  • Living in the southern states? Understand guidelines for hurricane disaster preparations.

2.  Always wear your MedicAlert ID and keep health information up-to-date.  During any emergency situation, MedicAlert’s Live 24/7 Emergency Response Center will take calls from emergency responders to provide your pertinent health information. If separated from your loved ones, our 24/7 Family Notification Service will notify the families of members who are admitted to hospitals and shelters to let them know the condition and whereabouts of loved ones. 

3. Learn all your area’s evacuation routes and shelter locations. The time to figure out an evacuation isn’t while a hurricane is bearing down on your home, or after a tsunami warning has been issued. Evacuations are actually pretty common, so it will serve you well to know the details ahead of time.

  • Know escape routes from your own home and place of work.
  • If you have children, draw them a map and post it near main doors in the house.
  • Have a plan in place where your family will regroup if you must evacuate your house.
  • Pick a specific location right outside your home, and one outside the neighborhood, in case you must leave the area.
  • Decide ahead of time where you would go in case of an evacuation, whether it’s a friend’s or relative’s house or a Red Cross shelter.

4. Learn what to do if you’re caught away from home. It’s common to be away from home when a sudden disaster strikes. In the case of an unexpected emergency, you should be prepared to react from different locations, including your workplace or car.

  • Know all evacuation routes, communication plan and how to receive emergency notifications.
  • Have a plan for reconnecting with your spouse and kids who may be at work, at school, daycare, or after-school activities.
  • Talk to schools and childcare to see how they will communicate with families in an emergency.

5. Have an emergency kit ready and know how to use it. Have basic necessities including food, water, first aid supplies, flash lights, batteries, etc.

  • Have your supplies ready to use and together in one place, rather than scattered in every place of the house.
  • Keep a backup kit in your vehicle in case an emergency occurs unexpected while away from home.
  • Make sure everything is in working order and check food expiration dates sporadically.

6. Ensure you have a plan in place for pets. Keeping the entire family out of danger during an emergency includes the safety of your pets.

  • If you need to evacuate, never leave your pets behind.
  • Try to evacuate to a friend or family member’s house, as pets may not be allowed in public shelters.
  • Keep a pet emergency kit on hand with food and other important necessities.
  • The ASPCA recommends micro chipping pets so they can be immediately recognized and returned to you even without tags.

7. Know emergency telephone numbers. Keep them in your cell phone and post them near your home phones. Some good numbers to have are your emergency contact, the fire department, police station, and hospital near you.

8. Choose a primary emergency contact. Memorize the phone number if you can. A friend or relative who lives out of town might be easier to reach in an emergency. During an emergency, family members can text or call this person to let them know that they are safe.