MAYOR’S CORNER

You’ll remember last month I indicated there would be a series of articles addressing safety issues.  This month is the second in that series and we thank Officer Thom Taylor.  Once again… here’s Thom…

EMERGENCY PLANNING FOR YOUR HOME

By Officer Thom Taylor

There are many types of emergencies that would affect you and your family - both natural and manmade.  The affect these emergencies have on you and your family members can be minimized by taking the time before an emergency arises to make an emergency plan. Every member of your home should be included in any planning and kept up to date on any changes. The Emergency Kit that I will be referring to is the same Kit that I discussed in my first article, taken from the http://organizedhome.com/winter-preparedness-checklist website, with adjustments made for the time of year, weather and rotation of perishable items.

The most important part of this article is for you and your family to actually take the time to sit down, talk and MAKE A PLAN.

Things to consider when formulating your family plan are:

Separation

The actual nature of the Emergency will be a big part of your family’s decision to stay in your home or evacuate.  If you decide to evacuate, have a plan in place to gather all of your family members (including your pets!) and have some prearranged destinations. When planning your evacuation route include alternate routes and alternate forms of transportation. Try to keep vehicles at a minimum of a half tank of gas at all times. Before you leave, contact neighbors to let them know of your decision to evacuate.  If you have elderly or disabled neighbors you may want to include them in your plan. Before you evacuate, turn off all utilities to your home. (Part of your planning should be to learn how to turn off all of the utilities.) If you are driving you should have your Emergency “To go” Kit handy or in your car.  Before and during travel, listen to any available news source to stay up to date on events and closures that might affect your evacuation.

Deciding to stay will begin with your plan to gather your family members or deciding that they may be safer to stay where they are (church, school or work).  Part of this decision should be finding out if the facility or home where they are has an emergency plan. After making your initial decision to stay in your home and your family members have gathered (again, include your pets), begin to move to your safe area.  Lock all exterior doors and windows. Close all air vents to include fireplace dampers and turn off fans, air conditions and heating units. Your “Safe Area” should be an interior room with as few windows as possible. Make certain you have your Emergency "Home" Kit in the room and then seal the doors and windows as best as you can.  If the nature of the emergency dictates, turn off all utilities to your home.

Planning for emergency communication should include the portable radio and television in your emergency kit. Use these to keep current with the status of the emergency by tuning to local and emergency stations that will be broadcasting regular updates. You should also plan for each member of your household to memorize, or have access to, the phone number of a designated out-of-town contact person.  Local phone services will be very busy during an emergency and everyone calling the same contact person will help you to account for all family members. To accomplish this you will need to make certain all members of your household have a cellular telephone that is well-charged, a prepaid phone card, or enough change to make the phone call to your contact person.  Again, all communications will be very busy during an emergency, so be patient.

As you begin to take the actions in your emergency plan to stay in your home, remember to contact your neighbors. You can let them know that you are staying and make sure they do not need your assistance. Please remember to include your family pets and any elderly or disabled neighbors in both the planning and in a real emergency.

The information gathered for this article was taken from the ready.gov website. Log on to find this and a lot more information about the different types of disasters and emergency planning for your home, school or workplace.