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Tips for Preparing Your Family for an Emergency

Woman putting cans of food to prepare emergency backpack

Emergencies can happen unexpectedly to anyone. These can be caused by power outages, accidents, natural disasters, or larger widespread events. Being prepared for these emergencies will not only allow you to react quicker but could save someone’s life. In this guide we will review how to prioritize and develop an emergency plan for your family.

Mental Preparation

While most think the first step to prepare for an emergency includes buying a lot of gear, it is best to first prepare mentally. Mental preparedness includes visualizing the emergencies that could happen and how you would react. Everyone has a different lifestyle and families, so blindly following generic advice for emergency preparedness is not the best for most people. Being mentally prepared will help you and your family to not panic during an emergency.

The best way to mentally prepare is to make a plan with your family. Go through each scenario including natural disasters, medical emergencies, fire, home invasion, and evacuation. In the plan include tasks and actions for each member of your family. Since most families go to work or school each day, include in the plan scenarios for both being away from home and together at home.

If you have young children, discuss where they can go for safety. It could include a neighbor’s home, a safe place in your home, or a friend or relative. If they are in school, discuss with them who can pick them up or where they should go. Always have an alternative meeting place in case you are separated.

First Aid

Having a proper first aid kit nearby at all times should be your next priority. You can keep a larger kit in your home and vehicle, and a smaller IFAK (individual first aid kit) in your pocket or bag. Your kit should include trauma items to stop severe bleeding such as tourniquets and quick clot, and not just band aids and ibuprofen.

Having a first aid kit is useless without knowing how to use it. Take a reputable class from the Red Cross or another organization. Make sure the class includes first aid for severe injuries, as well as CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. Choking on food is one of the more common causes of accidental death that most forget about.

Water

Having access to clean, drinkable water should be your next priority. You can only survive a few days without water. At home, this should be considered before an emergency occurs. For each family member, store at least one gallon per day. The number of days of water you should store depends on the space you have, but should be a minimum of three days. Two weeks of water is ideal and will cover most emergencies.

In addition to storing water, you should also have a way to filter and purify water. There are a few different water filters on the market for survival situations. A stainless-steel container and water purification tablets are also good to keep in your vehicle and bug out bag.

Food Supply

During an extended power outage, traveling to the grocery store to buy food may not be an option. Most people have enough food in their home to last a few days. After that, desperation and panic begins as most will not be prepared and will not know where their next meal will come from.

Consider building up a 3-month food supply over time. There are various emergency food supply strategies that are not only a benefit for emergency preparedness, but also save you money since you can buy in bulk.

Your food supply should include non-perishable items that you normally eat. It is not practical to store 100 pounds of rice if you never eat rice. Make a list of meals that you normally eat and start with items that have a shelf life of six months or more. Be sure to rotate your food items regularly as you use them.

Emergency Heat

During the winter, make sure you have a backup for the heat in your home if the power goes out. If you have a wood burning fireplace or stove, keep at least one month of firewood on hand. Also consider keeping a small propane or kerosene emergency heater. If you have gas heat, a small generator could be an option to power your HVAC unit. Most electric heat systems require a lot of electricity, so a larger generator is needed to power them. In this case, a small portable heater could be a better option for you.

Emergency Stove

Once you have an emergency water and food supply established, you need a way to cook. If you have a gas stove, you may still be able to use it when the power is out. Other options include a portable gas stove, fireplace, outdoor fire pit or survival stove.

Consider having multiple fuel options for cooking. If you have a portable gas stove, also consider a wood burning stove in case you run out of gas. A small rocket or survival stove can burn small twigs and sticks that are easily found around your home.

Evacuation Prep

If you are forced to evacuate, make a plan for where you would go and what you would need to take with you. Consider locations in multiple directions, such as one East of your home and one West. Also consider building a bug out bag and having it ready to go.

Important items to include should follow a similar priority to what we have listed above. Include a First Aid kit, water filter, portable non-perishable food, and items for warmth and shelter. By getting these items ready to go, you can be one of the first to leave before panic and traffic sets in.

Get Prepared

Emergencies can happen to anyone and are usually outside of your control. By building your own plan with your family, you will be ready to react without panicking. This will allow your family to think clearly and increase their chances of surviving an emergency successfully.

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