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Develop your family emergency plan

Updated on April 15, 2014

Better safe than sorry

Here is something we usually don’t consider: having an emergency plan. But the question is: why don’t we consider it? Obviously, we expect everything to go well and that no harm will come to us. These are good thoughts; after all we cannot live our lifes in fear.

Nonetheless, you just need to turn on the TV to be overwhelmed by an endless number of all sorts of accidents and catastrophes, from earthquakes to tornados, from fires to floods, you name it.

Now, these things happened to somebody and I’m sure they weren’t counting on it either, but it did happen.

So, can it happen to us, also? Yes. Will we live our lifes in fear? No.

But anyway, why not take a day off our busy schedule to develop an emergency plan for your family, just in case? After all, better safe than sorry.

Therefore, here are some tips you should consider when making an emergency plan.

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What is an emergency plan?

An emergency plan is a scheme of action in case an emergency occurs. The idea is for the players involved to know what their part is, what is to be done in case of an emergency, where they should go and what they need to have with them.

Because we are considering an emergency plan for a family, every plan needs to be different, considering the characteristics and needs of the family. It will make a lot of difference if you have small children, if you are a stay at home mom or not, if your children are grown or if you have a grandmother or grandfather living with you.

Depending on the people that make up the family and their needs, the plans needs to be adapted.

Now, an emergency can be a lot of things, in this case we will focus on major catastrophes like earthquakes, floods, tornados and the likes. Basically, events that make you leave your house, but when you discuss with your family the emergency plan you can also go through with them the steps in case of an emergency in the house, for instance a fire.

The best is for the family to sit down together and imagine what would happen in case of an emergency. So, discuss where you could be at different hours of the day or who needs assistance the most. For example, you can have one of your older kids, pick up a sibling at day care, considering that their school is closer to the day care center.

Discuss a place you could all meet, that could be safe and a second place just in case, or a second place depending on what kind of disaster you were talking about. It's very important to have a designated emergency meeting point. How long should the family members wait there for each other, before moving on and what should be done next.

What comes out of all that brainstorming should be written down as a set of rules for every family member to know. Over time this set of rules may have to be adapted, because things change, you move to another house, your children grow up, you change jobs… Well, so many things can happen that it’s best to schedule a family meeting once a year to go over this and you can actually make it fun and try it out, like a drill.

Come up with a made up scenario of crisis, inform your family what will go on and when and have them go over the family emergency plan. See how it goes. Most likely you will have to make some adjustments in the end, but better at a drill, than during the real thing.

Steps to create an emergency plan

- Find out which are the most likely natural disasters that can happen in your area – add fire to that list;

- Consider your players and their specific needs – children, grown-ups, disabled, elderly and, obviously, any pets you may have;

- Find out if your city or town has any emergency plan ( they should) and where are the designated shelters in case something happens;

- Ask about the emergency plans at your work place, your children’s schools, etc;

- Consider if there is a safe place you may go, without using one of the shelters;

- Consider the basics you and your family will need to survive for a few days in the chaos that follows;

Sit down with your family and discuss all the information you have. Explain what is more likely to happen and how it happens.

Just to give you an example, in case of a major earthquake, it can all start with a light shake or you can hear a loud “bang”, very much like the sound of a supersonic airplane flying by or you can even hear a prolonged, extremely loud noise. Only after a second or two, will the actual earthquake hit. It’s important to know the signs so you can act immediately. Don’t wait until you are sure you are experiencing an earthquake, just take cover right away. So, not only, should you be aware of this, but also your family. Therefore, you should go over this, and other signs of catastrophes, with them and write it down.

Then go over the different places you all can be at and decide for each of those what is the course of action.

If you are all in the house, you should take your emergency first aid kit and emergency supply kit and get to a safe place.

If you are at work, decide how you will all get together as soon as possible and you will work from there.

Don’t forget that communications and transport are very important, but most likely our communications system will not be working and the roads will be jammed. If you can take your car and go, safely, that’s great, but you must consider you probably won’t be able to go far. So, think what you will do in that case.

Nonetheless, teach your children how to call the emergency number and, if there is family out of town (in this case, the farther away, the better) make sure your kids know their names and phones numbers and, if possible, where they live.

Now, if you haven’t done it by this day, here is something worth considering, while you are at it: take a first aid and CPR class. At least, two people in each family should do it, just in case the other gets injured. And, obviously, learn and teach your family the basics, namely how to use a fire extinguisher, how to turn off water, gas, etc, what are the safest places in the house in case of an accident and the best escape routes.


Emergency supplies

Ideally, an emergency supply kit would have a lot, a lot of things, because really you don’t know what’s going to happen and what you will need, and probably you will need everything. But here is the thing, it’s a catastrophe, it’s a disaster, it’s an emergency, you probably will have to carry everything yourself, no car, no nothing, so keep it simple, keep it basic:

- Water – yes, this is the first, the most important thing you need, so long as you have water, the rest you’ll figure out as you go along and you can keep fresh bottles of water in the car, in your work place, everywhere basically;

- Food – Non perishable food, so, cans of tuna, sausages, beans and the likes – you don’t need a refrigerator for these, they come in small cans you can easily transport and they have long expiration dates;

- Flashlight;

- Some batteries;

- Battery powered radio;

- An extra cell phone and a charger;

- Copies of most important documents;

- List of contacts;

- Basic hygiene products;

- Manual can opener;

- Map;

- Some money;

- First aid kit: alcohol wipes or ethyl alcohol, bandages, soap, scissors, mouthpiece for CPR, tweezers, thermometer, instant cold packs, safety pins, adhesive tape, sterile gauze pads, antiseptic wipes, gloves and emergency blanket, a splint; Finally, don’t forget to through in some generic medications, such as ointments for cuts and bruises, some acetaminophen and ibuprofen and extra prescription medications for the family.

Once you have all these items in place just put them in a backpack, so it’s always ready to go if necessary. At the same time, be sure to keep a stock of these items at the house in case you are stranded.

Be sure to replace the water and food supplies from time to time, considering expiration dates on the products.

Feeling safe enough

After developing a proper emergency plan and deciding the emergency meeting points, don't forget to put the plan into practice. You'll probably detect flaws that you can correct and, of course, updating the plan is something you must remember to do from time to time.

With a proper emergency plan, come what may, you are ready. Let's hope you never need it, but if you do, at least, you know that you and your family are prepared and you will find each other and, that may be the best confort we have at terrible times, knowing we have our loved ones close by, that they are with us and that together we can overcome anything.


Don’t forget to leave me your comment and vote on the hub.

For more information check out my profile and stop by my other hubs.

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© Copyright Apr 04 2012 / To use part or the whole article you must first get written permission from the author. Feel free, nonetheless, to use an intro of the hub with a link to the article here on hubpages for the rest of the article.

© 2012 Joana e Bruno


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    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Healthexplorer, thanks for reading and commenting. Have a great day!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Mary, it's usually when something like that happens that we remember to do something about it... Same with me, we had an earthquake some months ago, not that big - fortunatelly - but that really scared me and that's when I really started to think that I live in an earthquake area and I need to take that serious... I hope this hub can be helpful for other people, if nothing else, to remind them to be prepared. Anyway, thanks for stopping by, commenting, voting and sharing... All the best and take care!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 5 years ago from Florida

      You have written a very interesting and informative Hub here. A lot of people do not have an emergency plan and they should. We just had a close call with Hurricane Issac that prompted me to write a Hub about natural disasters and how to prepare for them.

      I voted this Hub UP, and will share, Mary

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Kerlynb, I think we should all have one of this, and most especialy in cases such as yours... and mine... I also live in a place prone to earthquakes and just a few months back I woke up because I felt my bed shaking, it was very strange, it was like it was dancing under me or like I was at sea, it was the strangest thing and it was the middle of the night and I woke up and I wasn't quite sure what was happening, but even so I just thought: wake hubby, get the babies and run... Anyway, it stopped while we were getting the babies, but it could have been worse and at that time we were together, which I think is better, but what about next time, right? Anyway, you already have the emergency kit, which is great, because I know a lot of people that don't even have that ready. Glad you thought this hub was helpful and thanks for stopping by, voting and commenting! Have a great day!

    • kerlynb profile image

      kerlynb 5 years ago from Philippines, Southeast Asia, Earth ^_^

      OMG, I live in a country that lies smack on the Pacific Ring of Fire, this place around the rim of the Pacific Ocean that is so prone to STRONG earthquakes, storms, and volcanic eruptions. Oddly, I never even bothered to make an emergency plan, nonetheless ready an emergency kit! :( Thank you for the hub. You just reminded me of how important it is to be prepped up for emergencies. Voting this one up and useful!

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Phil, that's just it, it's a win/win situation for everybody. Personally, I worry a lot, about everything and even though I know a lot can still go wrong, having a plan makes it a bit easier and makes you feel a bit more in control, so we should all have one. Thanks for reading, commenting and voting and a nice day to you.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Brett, you are totally right, everything is so uncertain these days that the best is to be prepared. I hadn't thought about the purification tablets, great idea. I think I'll include them here. Thanks. Have a great day!

    • Phil Plasma profile image

      Phil Plasma 5 years ago from Montreal, Quebec

      Great hub, indeed, having an emergency plan is key. The work that officials have to do during an emergency is significantly reduced if many people have planned for the emergency. This makes for a win/win situation during a crisis.

      Voted up and useful.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 5 years ago from Thailand

      Extremely useful advice, especially with these current uncertain weather patterns and tectonic movements! I like the idea of practicing the plan, as this can show up weaknesses very quickly. Also, for the water, you can use purification tablets ... just in case you can't get fresh water.

      Shared, up and useful.

    • algarveview profile image

      Joana e Bruno 5 years ago from Algarve, Portugal

      Hi, Joan, yes it's quite amazing, but I think that's because we never consider that it can happen to us. Well, I say, better safe than sorry. Thanks for reading and commenting and I'm glad you liked it. :)

    • Joan King profile image

      Joan King 5 years ago

      I amazes me how many people don't think safety first and don't have an emergency plan. Great hub.