Keeping your family safe and getting your life back to normal following a natural disaster depends on advance planning and time and energy devoted to preparation. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has developed The Injury Prevention Program (TIPP) — four comprehensive steps to prepare your family for disasters, prevent personal injuries and promote safety readiness. Taking time as a family to prepare for the unexpected not only helps to ensure everyone’s safety, but models responsibility. Use the following tips in your own preparation, courtesy of the AAP:
1. Find out what the risks are in your area.
Find out from your local emergency management office, health department, or American Red Cross chapter
2. Create a family disaster plan.
Hold a family meeting; keep it simple and work as a team.
Plan Talk about the dangers of the disaster(s) with your family.
What to Tell Children
It is important to educate children about disasters without overly alarming them. Use the following guidelines:
If you are told to evacuate, take these steps:
3. Complete this checklist.
___ Put emergency phone numbers by each phone.
___ Show everyone how and when to turn off the utilities.
___ Make sure you have enough insurance coverage (for example, flood, fire, earthquake).
___ Do a home hazard hunt for items that can move, fall, break, or cause a fire.
___ Stock enough emergency supplies to last 3 days.
___ Take a Red Cross first aid and CPR class.
___ Plan home escape routes – 2 from each room.
___ Find safe places in your home for each type of disaster.
___ Make 2 copies of important documents and keep the originals in a safe-deposit box. Keep 1 copy on hand and give the second to your out-of-town contact.
4. Practice and maintain your plan.
Every month… Test your smoke alarms.
Every 6 months… Go over the family disaster plan and do escape drills. Quiz children. Replace stored food and water.
Every year… Replace the batteries in smoke alarms (unless your smoke alarm uses long-life batteries).
Neighbors Helping Neighbors Meet with neighbors to plan how you can work together during a disaster.
Utilities Do the following so you will be ready if told to turn off your utilities:
- Find the main electric fuse box, water service main, and natural gas main.
- Learn how and when to turn these off, and teach family members.
- Keep a wrench and flashlight near gas and water shut off valves.
- If you turn the gas off, you will need a professional to turn it back on.
Important Documents Make 2 copies and keep the originals of the following in a safe-deposit box or waterproof container:
- Wills, insurance policies, contracts, deeds, investments
- Passports, social security cards, immunization records, EIF
- Bank account numbers/credit card account numbers
- Inventory of valuable household goods
- Family records (eg, birth and marriage certificates) and photos
- Documentation to assist in identifying children who may be separated from their parents (eg, photos, adoption records, birth certificates)
Emergency Supplies List
- Signal flare
- Map of the area and important phone numbers
- Special items for infants and the elderly (diapers, formula, medication)
- Three gallons of water per person
- Three-day supply of ready-to-eat canned or packaged food
- Manual can opener
- Paper cups, plates, and plastic utensils
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- Toiletries (10 day supply of prescription medication, hand sanitizer)
- Cell phone batteries and/or phone charger
- A change of clothing, rain gear, and sturdy shoes for each family member
Put the following supplies in an easy-to-carry waterproof container:
- Battery-powered radio, flashlight, and extra batteries
- First aid kit and manual and prescription medications
- A credit card and cash
- Personal identification
- An extra set of car keys
- An extra pair of eyeglasses
- Matches in a waterproof container
Visit the US Department of Homeland Security Website (www.ready.gov) and AAP Children, Terrorism & Disasters Website (www.aap.org/terrorism) for more information.
Previously on the DC Metro Area Personal Injury Law Blog, we have posted articles related to:
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