A home safety plan is essential for keeping your family safe; it establishes what you’ll do in case of an emergency. This emergency could be burglar defense, a natural disaster, or fire. According to FEMA, while we all hope that disaster never strikes, over 60% of people don’t have a home safety plan at all. We recommend that you don’t get caught out if a serious situation arises, so we’ve compiled a list of 10 essential tips that you should use to finetune your plans and keep your family safe.
Consider your unique needs
When it comes to emergency preparedness, the precise nature of your plan will vary based on a few key details; firstly, you should consider where you live. Do you live in an area that’s prone to flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes? Do you live near a volcano? Where you live, and your family’s specific needs will impact your plan. You’ll need to make special accommodations for family members with disabilities, infants, or medical conditions. It would be best if you considered your family’s medical and dietary needs. Keeping an additional two weeks of medication on hand or a backup walking aid near your meeting spot (which we’ll address shortly) could make a significant difference in a disaster scenario.
It would help if you also considered your pets, created a list of pet-friendly hotels and evacuation shelters on your escape route. Also, remember to include items for your pet in your disaster kit.
Review your insurance
Your insurance should be a primary concern; before you have any issues, it’s a good idea to review your insurance policy before disaster strikes. It’s good to understand what your policy covers to ensure you know how to make a claim beforehand. A standard home policy may not include cover for an earthquake or flood.
Identify safe meeting areas indoors
Choose two safe areas in your home to make your pre-arranged meeting spots, one should be your primary spot, and the other should be your backup. The best place will vary depending on your precise needs; however, this would usually be a basement or ground floor room with no windows. A long interior hallway is also a possible idea.
Make a disaster kit
You should consider making disaster supply kits to cover yourself and your loved ones in the event of an emergency. Your disaster kit should be easily accessible and should be near your meeting place. It should be easy to carry and fit into 1-2 bags. Review your disaster kit every year so that if you
FEMA recommends that your emergency kit contains the following;
- Water, at least one gallon per member of your household per day for at least three days, drinking, and sanitation.
- Food (a minimum of three days of nonperishable food)
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio and an NOAA weather radio with tone alert.
- Extra batteries
- Whistle (to signal for help)
- Dust mask
- Moist Towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food.
- Local maps.
Additional items to consider adding include;
- Prescription medication and glasses
- Infant formula and diapers
- Pet food and extra water for your pet
- Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification, and bank account records in a waterproof portable container
- Cash or traveler’s checks and change.
- Emergency reference material like a first aid book.
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider adding extra if you live in a cold climate.
- Complete change of clothing, including a long-sleeved shirt, long pants, and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold climate.
- Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper. Do not use scented, color-safe, or bleaches with other cleaners.
- Fire extinguisher.
- It matches in a waterproof container.
- Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items.
- Mess kits, Paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels.
- Paper and Pencil.
You should teach your children to dial 911 and ensure they know essential information like their full name, the names of everyone in their family (“Mom” isn’t necessarily valuable for a 911 dispatcher), and your home address.
Draw a diagram
Draw a color-coded diagram of your various escape routes. Choose a favorite color for the primary safety plan, so your child will be able to jog their memory in an emergency easily. If you have more than one child, give each their color-coded plan. This is a good tip for children or teenagers who are highly visual learners.
Set two outdoor meeting areas
Similar to the indoor meeting areas, If your family is separated during an emergency, set two safe outdoor meeting spots where you can reunite (primary and alternative). Your outdoor meeting areas will be the primary escape destination during a fire.
Know your equipment
Barring very young children or disabled family members, everyone in the family should do basic things like find the trip box, turn the water supply on/off, use a fire extinguisher and distinguish between the carbon monoxide and the smoke alarm.
Consider where to go
Every emergency is different, so your destination will vary. For a tornado or earthquake, you’ll want to look into both a safe spot in the house, but also an emergency shelter near your home if you need to evacuate. Then there are also meeting spaces to consider (indoors in a crisis, outdoors in a fire). One of you will likely have a cellphone to hand, so it’s a good idea to have emergency contacts (such as local storm shelters, animal shelters, or other potential meeting spaces for evacuees).
Practice makes perfect
The key to being prepared in an emergency is practice. You’ll probably be scared and adrenaline-fueled in real trouble, and it’s easy to react inappropriately, so continually practicing your home safety plan will help you stay calm at the moment.
Make sure to practice the safety plan under different conditions, including at night. Darkness can make it all feel much worse, and in an emergency, your children may panic. Practicing in advance gets them better prepared and increases the chance that you’ll all stay safe.
Finally, practice basic safety measures over and over, especially fire safety, like touching a door before opening (to check for the heat of fire), not going outside in the case of an earthquake, and ensuring that your children know and can recite your address, names, safe spots/meeting areas and other important information, this all but guarantees that they’ll remember that information at that moment.
The Final Word
The majority of American’s don’t have any home safety plan; it’s something that will make a difference to you in case of emergency. It takes only a few hours of effort each year to ensure that you have a prepared, practiced emergency plan that will dramatically increase your chances of surviving all manner of crises and disasters.
This article has been reviewed and approved by Officer Banta.
Officer Banta is the official SecurityNerd home security and safety expert. A member of the Biloxi Police Department for over 24 years, Officer Banta reviews all articles before lending his stamp of approval. Click here for more information on Officer Banta and the rest of our team.