Emergency Preparedness at Home

Emergency Preparedness at Home

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As an Emergency Preparedness Safety Manager, one of my responsibilities is to try to think of all of sorts of things that could go wrong at UnityPoint Health-Meriter, make plans and prepare people for those things (all while hoping that none of those things happen). 

toranado across field

Tornado? I got a plan for that. Computer Failure? I got a plan for that too. Blizzards and Ice Storms?Yup, got that covered. Riots? Bomb Threats? Water and Sewer Failures? Hate to say it, but yes, I even have those covered. 

I have lots of plans for how to make sure my workplace and colleagues can make it through an emergency, but one of the most important plans is one I can’t put together: YOURS. 


Why Make a Plan?

Emergencies happen. Weather can change. Accidents happen. It might be a big event that affects hundreds of people, like an earthquake or a hurricane or a forest fire. It could be something smaller, like a flooded basement. Regardless of the size, when it happens to you it’s a big deal. Doing a little planning ahead of time can make it a little easier to get through the hard times and may make you feel a little safer and more secure.

What Should Your Plan Have In It?

There are some basics you will want to make sure you've covered. A great place to start is the checklist on clipboard />Ready.gov web site. They suggest starting by discussing these four questions with your family, housemates, or friends:

  • How will I/we get emergency alerts and warnings?
  • What is my/our shelter plan?
  • What is my/our evacuation route?
  • What is my/our family or household communication plan?

Emergency Alerts and Warnings

You have heard it on the radio and seen it on the television. It’s the thing that always seems to come on right when Aaron Rodgers is about to throw that game winning touchdown or just before the 

bachelor is to present that final rose. “We interrupt this program for a special announcement. The National Weather Service has announced a severe thunderstorm warning for ….”  

Shelter Plan

These announcements are important; frustrating sometimes, but important. There are other ways to stay on top of our changing weather and other emergencies: mobile device apps, weather radios, even social media are all ways to keep informed about what is going on around you. 

Do you know where to go in your home if there is a tornado warning? Select a room in the basement or an interior room on the lowest level away from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls. Make sure you have some basic supplies with you in case the power goes out or you need to stay there for a period of time. Go-to items include a flashlight and batteries, weather radio, maybe some water and a snack. 

Evacuation Route

Here you want to consider two plans. One for how to get out of your house or apartment if there is an emergency (like a fire), and another for ideas on where you can go, who you might stay with, and what you will need if you have to evacuate and can’t return for a period of time. Keep in mind things like pets, medications, and other essentials. 

Communication Plan

Do you have all the information you need to send and receive information with your family, housemates, or friends in the event of an emergency? There are some simple to use forms to help you collect and share information like important phone numbers (family, doctors, schools), emergency meeting places, and other important information. Check a couple out here via FEMA. 

What’s a Go-Kit?

I tell our new employees to create a Go-Kit (or Go-Bag), or a Go-Kit List that has the supplies they and their family members may need in an emergency situation. It should have things like a copy of your photo ID, enough of your medications to cover at least a day or two, a change of clothes or two,  toiletries (like deodorant or a hair brush), your emergency numbers from you communications plan, and a charger for any mobile device you may carry. You can create Go-Kits for you and even your pet(s)! 

Be Prepared, Make A Plan.

Here are some reliable and easy to use sources for more information on preparing for an emergency.

  • A good source for lots of information for individuals and families is the Ready.gov website. From sources of emergency alerts to making a plan to ways you can take actions to keep yourself and your community safer-this site has it all. It even has a special section for kids with games, activities and other learning/teaching tools.
  • The Red Cross also offers this quick and easy to read review of four key tips for preparing for an emergency.