Sometimes, emergencies can happen quite suddenly. Flash flooding, storms and bushfires are instances when things can go from fine to dangerous in a very short time.
And when sudden emergencies occur, your family is not likely to be together at home. You’ll probably be at work and the kids will be at school.
What do you do then?
At these times it’s easy to panic. Especially if you’re a parent and you’re worried about your children’s safety.
Having an emergency plan that every member of the household is aware of will help keep each of you safe and you will be able to deal with a crisis in an efficient manner.
To prepare an emergency plan, you need to do two things:
- Sit down to discuss your emergency plan with your family; and
- Document your plan on a master document and put this is an accessible place. A prep binder is a good way to keep everything together. Also, print essential contacts and emergency information on card files for each person to carry in their wallet. You will also want to put this information in your evacuation kit. I’ll cover this next week.
It’s easy not to make an emergency plan. Life is busy enough as it is without planning for something that might (hopefully) never happen. But things do happen, and being prepared could save someone’s life.
What you should cover when creating your emergency plan
1. Discuss potential emergencies
Discuss which potential emergencies may affect you and what each person is to do if the emergency occurs. Don’t just consider potential natural disasters. What would you do if you had a house fire? What if one of the kid’s wakes up very sick in the middle of the night (who’s going in the ambulance and who is staying home with the other kids, for instance)?
Does everyone know how to stay informed about potential disasters?
2. Discuss different possible scenarios and how you would deal with them
What if the kids are at school when an emergency occurs? Who will pick them up? Will someone go home to get your emergency kit and other important things?
Will you stay at home or evacuate? Under what circumstances?
Where will you shelter? Do you know which is the strongest / safest room in your home? Do you know how to prepare your home for emergencies?
3. Emergency Contacts
Everybody should know who the emergency contacts are (both local and long distant) and these contacts should be memorised, programmed into your mobiles and put on a wallet sized emergency plan.
It may be hard to get in contact with each other during an emergency – contacts outside your immediate family (particularly long distant ones who may not be affected by the emergency or may be easier to get in contact with) are a way of touching base with each other, reassuring each other and making further plans.
Prepare a list of emergency contacts and keep a list at home and a wallet sized one with you. As well as your emergency contacts, include school numbers and contact names, work number, emergency services numbers etc.
Store an ‘in case of emergency’ number in your mobile phone under the acronym of ICE. This allows emergency services to contact that person easily, should something happen to you. Make sure your emergency contact is not your partner, in case they are in the emergency with you. If your phone has a lock or you don’t have a mobile phone, store this number with your licence in your wallet. An emergency person will see this when they take out your ID.
Tip: In the event of an emergency text rather than phone. Often texts can get through even if you can’t phone.
4. Emergency meeting places
What is your emergency meeting place, just outside your home, in the event that you need to evacuate quickly (in the case of a house fire, for instance)?
What is your emergency meeting place in your local neighbourhood?
What is you emergency meeting place outside your local neighbourhood?
Make sure everyone knows where to meet up in the case of an emergency. Even if you can’t get in contact, you will all know to go to the same meeting place to reunite.
4. What are your school and work emergency plans?
Know your work and school emergency plans. Where should you pick your kids up, for instance, in the event of an emergency, especially if the school has been evacuated? Write evacuation points down in your plan.
5. If you need to evacuate your town, where will you go?
It’s a good idea to have several evacuation locations, in case your first isn’t feasible.
6. What are your evacuation routes?
Again, have more than one evacuation route in case roads are blocked. Can you evacuate without a car?
7. Does your community have emergency plans? What are they?
Your local council and state government emergency planning can assist you in making your own plans. Do you have local evacuation centres, for instance? Do you know where they are and how to get there?
Your local authorities may have evacuation procedures and routes. These may take precedence over your own plans.
7. Planning for special needs
Do members of your household have special needs that need to be taken into consideration? Young children, the elderly or people on medication, for instance.
What will you do with your pets in the case of an emergency?
9. Around the home
Do you have at least two escape routes at home? Can you get out of the house from all rooms? Does everyone know where the utilities are and how to turn them off? Does everyone know what to do (who grabs the bags, who packs the car etc.) in the case of emergency?
10. Planning with neighbours
In all the emergency planning information I’ve read, nobody mentions neighbours. Neighbours are an essential source of support in times of emergency. Assuming you’re home, neighbours are the people (physically) closest to you. Your neighbours will be your help and support (and vice versa), long before emergency services arrive.
On a lot of prepping website you will read advice like: every man for himself, buy a gun. It doesn’t have to be like that.
Time and time again we see Australians band together in times of emergency. Emergencies do that, they bring people together. And that’s what community is about, sticking together and helping each other out. So don’t forget to include your neighbours in your plan. Check on elderly neighbours. Provide a back up plan for each other. Help each other prepare.
Take time this week to discuss and write up an emergency plan. Print emergency contacts and meet up details on wallet sized cards for each member of the family.
Hopefully you will never have to use your plan, but if you do, you will be thankful that you planned ahead.
Melissa Goodwin is a writer and the creator of Frugal and Thriving who has a passion for living frugally and encouraging people to thrive on any budget. The blog is nine years old and is almost like her eldest baby. Prior to being a blogger and mum (but not a mummy blogger), she worked as an accountant doing other people’s budgets, books and tax.