Hurricanes, flooding, tornados, wildfires, and earthquakes keep various regions of the planet on constant alert. But for National Preparedness Month in September 2020 — with coronavirus added to the mix — organizations across the US have been working overtime to help families be ready.
The primary message? Have an emergency plan in place.
Here are some preparedness guidelines for you and your family.
Create a Kit
Andrew R. Roszak is the executive director of the Institute for Childhood Preparedness. Members of his organization travel the country, helping families prepare for disasters. He also oversees disaster recovery efforts in the US and the Caribbean. He recommends emergency kits contain the following items:
- plastic bags
- solar-powered light bulbs
- entertainment for the kids
- solar-powered phone chargers
“Cash is king during disasters,” Roszak says, reminding, “When the power or internet is out, credit card processing doesn’t work.”
He also advises, “Plastic bags and wraps can be used in a wide variety of scenarios, like keeping items clean and dry, catching rainwater, covering windows and air gaps, even covering wounds.”
Why Roszak recommends entertainment for kids, “It’s a wise idea to have some simple fallback activities to keep them occupied.”
Plan for Pets
Jarrod Murrieta is the Head of Catastrophe Response at Farmers Insurance. He tells Parentology, “A recent Farmers’ survey found nearly one-quarter (23%) of Americans who own a pet don’t have anything for them in their emergency kit.”
He advises, “Include a leash, food and water, any medications they may need, vaccination records, and their favorite toy to help keep them calm.”
Additionally, Murrieta suggests having a plan in place should an incident require evacuation. Arrange with a friend or relative that you and your pets can stay with them and have back-up animal-friendly accommodations on your radar.
The California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services also reminds families to plan for their pets. It asserts whatever is best for the family is usually in a pet’s best interest, as well.
Get Some Practice
There’s an important reason schools, businesses and other organizations execute surprise drills throughout the year. The more often people practice how to handle certain situations, the better their choices and response times will be in the heat of the moment.
The City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department (EMD) recommends families practice their evacuation routines at home. Set a predetermined meeting place for emergencies. Also:
- Practice what to tell a dispatcher if calling 911 becomes necessary
- Role-play for when a caregiver becomes injured or ill
- Rehearse the drop, cover, and hold on for earthquakes
- Rehearse stop, drop, and roll for fires
The Bottom Line
The recommendations and tools provided for families here represent only the tip of the iceberg. Take a look at the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Preparedness System webpage, which provides additional resources. For tips tailored for your specific area and circumstances, reach out to your local EMD. You may also turn to local organizations that can provide you with additional resources.
National Preparedness Month 2020 — Sources
City of Los Angeles Emergency Management Department: A Comprehensive Guide to Family and Home Preparedness
Andrew R. Roszak, JD, MPA, EMT-Paramedic, Institute for Childhood Preparedness
Jarrod Murrieta, Farmers Insurance
California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services: For Individuals & Families
FEMA: National Preparedness System