This guide will help you and your family prepare for a disaster. Keep this sheet in a special place so you will always know where to find it. Get the family together now to start following the 4 steps to safety readiness!
1. Find out what the disaster risks are in your area.
Find out from your local emergency management office, health department, or American Red Cross chapter
- What types of disasters are likely to happen and how to prepare for each
- What your community's warning signals sound like and what to do if you hear them
- How to help the elderly and people with special needs
2. Create a family disaster plan.
Hold a family meeting; keep it simple and work as a team.
Talk about the dangers of the disaster(s) with your family.
- Have a plan in case you are separated.
- Fill out the local emergency phone numbers and child identification cards. Fill out an Emergency Information Form (EIF) for each child with special health care needs. (Seewww.aap.org/advocacy/emergprep.htm.)
- Become familiar with the specifics of your child's child care or school disaster plans as you could be separated from your child during a disaster.
- Plan what to do if you are asked to evacuate.
- Plan several escape routes.
- Plan how to take care of your pets.
What to Tell Children
It is important to educate children about disasters without overly alarming them. Use the following guidelines:
- Tell children that a disaster is something that could hurt people or cause damage. Explain that nature sometimes provides “too much of a good thing”—fire, rain, and wind.
- Explain how important it is to make a family disaster plan.
- Teach children
If you are told to evacuate, take these steps
- Leave right away if told to do so.
- Listen to your battery-powered radio for instructions from local officials.
- Wear protective clothing and shoes.
- Shut off water, gas, and electricity if told to do so.
- Leave a note telling when you left and where you are going.
- Call your family contact to tell him or her where you are going.
- Take your family emergency supplies (listed on the next 2 pages).
- Lock your home.
- Use routes suggested by officials.
3. Complete this checklist.
- □ Put emergency phone numbers by each phone.
- □ Show everyone how and when to turn off the utilities.
- □ Make sure you have enough insurance coverage (for example, flood, fire, earthquake).
- □ Do a home hazard hunt for items that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire.
- □ Stock enough emergency supplies to last 3 days.
- □ Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
- □ Plan home escape routes— from each room.
- □ Find safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
- □ Make 2 copies of important documents and keep the originals in a safe-deposit box. Keep 1 copy on hand and give the second to your out-of-town contact.
4. Practice and maintain your plan.
Test your smoke alarms.
Every 6 months...
Go over the family disaster plan and do escape drills. Quiz children. Replace stored food and water.
Replace the batteries in smoke alarms (unless your smoke alarm uses long-life batteries).
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
Meet with neighbors to plan how you can work together during a disaster.
- Talk about who has special skills (eg, medical, technical).
- Make plans for child care in case parents cannot get home.
Do the following so you will be ready if told to turn off your utilities:
- Find the main electric fuse box, water service main, and natural gas main.
- Learn how and when to turn these off, and teach family members.
- Keep a wrench and flashlight near gas and water shutoff valves.
- If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
Make 2 copies and keep the originals of the following in a safe-deposit box or waterproof container:
- Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, investments
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records, EIF
- Bank account numbers/credit card account numbers
- Inventory of valuable household goods
- Family records and photos (eg, birth and marriage certificates)
- Documentation to assist in identifying children who may be separated from their parents (eg, photos, adoption records, birth certificates)
Emergency Supplies List
- Signal flare
- Map of the area and important phone numbers
- Special items for infants and the elderly (diapers, formula, medication)
- Three gallons of water per person
- Three-day supply of ready-to-eat canned or packaged food
- Manual can opener
- Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Toiletries (10-day supply of prescription medications, hand sanitizer)
- Cell phone batteries and/or phone charger
- A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member
Put the following supplies in an easy-to-carry waterproof container:
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual and prescription medications
- A credit card and cash
- Personal identification
- An extra set of car keys
- An extra pair of eyeglasses
- Matches in a waterproof container
Visit the US Department of Homeland Security Web site (www.ready.gov) and AAP Children, Terrorism & Disasters Web site (www.aap.org/terrorism) for more information.
Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics