The old adage “Failing to plan is planning to fail” holds true in disasters too. Every family should have and practice a disaster plan. Make it a family project. The plan will only work if every knows what is in it and what they are supposed to do.
Consider the types of disaster that we might experience here is North Central Texas. Surely you thought of severe weather but also consider other things. In our community we need to think about flash flooding, hazardous materials spills, wild fires, etc. Your home may be more vulnerable to one or more of these hazards depending on your location. Discuss and plan with your family how you should respond to each of these situations. Know how the emergency warning system works here in Navarro County.
Consider the special needs of your family. Do you have elderly family members that will need special help to evacuate if it becomes necessary to leave your home? Do you own pets? If so, you need to plan for them too. Due to public health concerns, our community emergency shelters will not be able to accept pets. However, we will offer alternatives for pet owners if shelters are opened. Learn more about disaster planning for your pets here.
Once you’ve done your homework, create the plan. The key points to the plan should include:
Have a least 2 ways out of your house.
Designate at least 2 meeting places for your family. One place should be immediately outside the home and the other should be some other place outside the neighborhood in case you can not get to your home.
Have a communications plan. Ask an out-of-state friend or family member to be your family contact. (During a disaster, it is sometimes easier to make a long-distance call than a local call.) Make sure everyone in the family knows the family contact’s phone number.
Post emergency phone numbers (fire, police, etc) at a designated place in your home.
Teach your children how and when to call 911.
Locate the shutoffs for water, gas and electricity to your home. Teach all the family members how to turn them off in an emergency.
Build a Home Disaster Kit.
Make a schedule to check and replace the batteries in smoke detectors. (Check them monthly. Replace the batteries at least annually).
For more information, the American Red Cross publishes a very good brochure on Family Disaster Plans. Check out the following site to build your Family Disaster Plans and Kits! http://www.redcross.org