Your Family Emergency Plan

By: Contributor Last Updated: August 8, 2012

The best way to prepare your family for any kind of disaster is to create a family emergency plan. Meet with your family and discuss different types of dangers including fire, severe weather and floods. Divide up responsibilities and plan to work together as a team.

Create a Communications Plan
Choose an out of town contact for your family, preferably a close family member or friend. This person should be in a location that is unlikely to be affected by the same event. Make sure they are aware that they are your emergency contact.

Designate Escape Routes
Draw a floor plan of your home. Make sure children understand the drawings and mark two escape routes from each room. Post a copy of the drawings at eye level in each child’s room. If your home is taller than ground level, plan to use an escape ladder from upper floors. Escape ladders can be purchased at your local home appliance store, Walmart, HomeDepot or Lowes.

Have Two Meeting Places
Choose a specific outside location on or near your property in case of a house fire. Don’t be afraid to talk about these situations with your children. Kids are more likely to be able to handle the stress of the crisis when they know what to expect and what to do.

Inform, Inform, Inform
Make sure you are aware of the emergency plans at your workplace, daycare, school and other places your family spends time. Develop a plan for pickup at these locations.

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Work with Neighbors
Meet with your neighbors to plan how you can work together after a disaster until help arrives. Talk about how you can share resources. Know your neighbor’s special skills (medical, technical, etc.) Consider how your neighbors can help with elderly or disabled family members. Make plans for childcare in case parents can’t get home. Exchange contact information so you can stay in touch at all times.

Get Tech Ready
The Internet – including online news sites and social media – is a popular way to gather emergency information and let loved ones know you are safe. Use your cell phone’s text message capability to receive news and weather updates.

Remember Your Pets
Pets cannot take care of themselves, and if by chance they tried to find food or shelter, there is a chance of them going missing before you return home. If you are going to a public shelter they may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives and consider loved ones who will welcome you and your pets. Make a back-up plan if you cannot care for your pets yourself. Find a neighbor, friend or relative who can assure you your pets will be in safe hands.

Keep Everyone in the Loop
Make sure everyone knows the plan. Teach all family members how to call 9-1-1. Post the emergency contacts near phones as stress can cause anyone to be forgetful. Teach each family member how to use the fire extinguisher and show them where they are kept. Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.

Practice & Maintain Your Plan
Recharge your fire extinguisher by following the instructions on the cylinder. Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors monthly, and change the batteries once a year. Replace stored water and food to keep them fresh.

Stock Up on Supplies
Keep enough emergency supplies in your home to meet everyone’s needs for seven to 14 days. Put together a kit with items that you would need in your home or in case of evacuation. A separate kit stored in an easy-to-carry backpack or duffle bag might come in handy. Replace these supplies periodically and don’t forget to check batteries. Keep important documents in waterproof or fireproof containers or a bank safety deposit box.

Disaster Happens Everyday
Be sure to follow these steps and have a well thought out emergency plan in place. Not only can preparation reduce reaction time, but it can also prevent the loss of a loved one. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Don’t Risk Tragedy

Rainbow International – Industry Leader and Innovator
Rainbow International provides “best practices” with integrity and the highest of standards in restoration and cleaning services. Utilizing the most advanced equipment, innovative technologies and a built-in accountability system, our professional emergency crews complete every job rapidly to assure an uncompromising commitment to service excellence and customer satisfaction. Ultimately, we don’t just restore homes and businesses; we restore value, stability, and peace of mind.

Established in 1981, Rainbow International, a subsidiary of The Dwyer Group®, offers over 300 global service locations. As a premier provider of restoration and cleaning services, Rainbow International deploys professional emergency response crews with advanced equipment, state-of-the-art technology and training to restore property, contents and, ultimately, peace of mind. Insurance, commercial and residential customers depend on Rainbow International to mitigate damage and restore contents for businesses and homes suffering from water, fire, smoke, odor and mold situations.

For more information please visit www.rainbowintl.com/nwi. For additional white papers or to offer suggestions for future topics, please visit www.rainbowintl.com/best-practice or join our “Rainbow International Restoration and Cleaning” group on LinkedIn.