How to Prepare Your Family For Emergencies
One of the biggest lessons I have learned from 2020 is just how quickly everything can change. As if a worldwide pandemic wasn’t enough, our city experienced a major earthquake. When challenging times come, you really see what you are made of and how prepared your family is. While my kids knew to hide under our table, I was surprised by the emotional challenges we had because of the many aftershocks that followed. It is good to note that we made it through and that the aftershocks have almost completely gone away. It got me thinking though…is my family ready for the future challenges and emergencies ahead?
Think about your family’s situation last year. Were you prepared with all the things needed for a comfortable survival? Did you run out of toilet paper? Would your family know what to do if there was a fire, earthquake, or other natural disaster? How about your family’s financial preparedness? Did your family suffer through layoffs or a cut in pay? So many difficult things happened last year. The question is what will you learn from them?
You can help your family prepare for the future by starting now. There are so many ways to prepare for emergencies. I love how the schools do repeated fire drills. The kids are prepared and know exactly what they are supposed to do if there ever is a fire.
Please don’t panic with all this information! Even just choosing one thing will make such a difference. When our kids were little we had one day where we went over so many possible situations and what they should do. It ended up bombing because I terrified my kids with so much information at once. Break it up into smaller lessons (like take 5′ or so each week) and address one possible emergency. What do the kids need to know and do in each situation?
Create a Family Emergency Plan.
- Emergency phone numbers. Phone numbers should be written down and put in an easy place for the family to find them. (Like hung on the inside of a kitchen cabinet). When disaster strikes how will you be able to get a hold of each other? Texting may work better if lines are down. We had to teach our kids to dial 9-1-1-talk so they knew to push the talk button afterwards.
- What would we do if…? Discuss different scenarios with your children and act them out. ie: stop, drop, roll-actually get down and physically show them. Your kids will remember those examples when it really matters. Have a fire drill and let them hear what a fire alarm sounds like. We drew a map of the house and arrows in red so the kids knew how they could get out if an exit was blocked.
- Where will you meet? We had a designated meeting place in the front of the house next to a light pole. Also, pick a 2nd meeting place for those not at home.
- Give the kids a code word for if they need to text you to get out of a bad situation. Ours was a simple text they could send us. BANANA if they needed to leave and BANANA SPLIT if they needed to leave quickly. Luckily, we never had to use them.
- Learn basic 1st aid together. What are the steps to remember immediately after disaster strikes? Make sure to discuss these every six months or so so they stay fresh. Stay calm, check for injuries, and look and listen to make sure it is safe.
Food and Water Storage
- Take an inventory of what you already have in your pantry, fridge, freezer. Here’s an example of something to print off to keep track. Make a list of what you need to buy. I like to start with buying extras of things we love to eat when they are on sale. Or you can split up your list and buy one extra item each week. Every little bit helps. I would aim for at least 6 months of extra food and supplies. Don’t forget to inventory the non-food items like medicines, female products, shampoo, soap, and TP!
- Increase your water storage. Maintenance levels of water are 1 gallon/person/day for 2 weeks. Start by buying an extra case of water every week. I like the gallon jugs in a box so that you can stack them easily. Your family will not survive without water! Make this a priority!
Prepare a 72 hour kit for each family member.
72 hour kits are great for emergencies when you have to grab them and go quickly. I remember hearing a lady speak about her experiences in New Orleans when Katrina hit. There are simple things you can add that will make your life so much easier if you are ever in a situation like that.
Find a storage container or backpacks work great. Get one for each family member. Hang them near an exit so that you can grab them quickly. Here’s a printable example.
- 72 hours worth of high energy food (per person)
- A jacket
- Water bottles
- A lanyard so you can hang things on it…like Chapstick, a compass, pocket knife, eating utensils, and a small flashlight.
- First Aid supplies
- Anything else you might need for 2 days.
Make a Car Emergency Kit.
- Have a basic first aid kit.
- a blanket
- a Flashlight with extra batteries
- a collapsible shovel
- canned air for flat repair
- jack and spare tire
- jumper cables
- drinking water and high energy snacks-enough for everyone that rides in the car.
- infant supplies: formula, water, diapers,
- We keep a few extra female products just in case.
- Pain relievers.
- Money (small bills). It seems we are out a lot when we need change for something.
- extra phone chargers
- map of the area
- Keep the gas tank at least 1/2 way full. This is the best place in your home to store gas.
Prepare your home:
- Draw a floor plan in your home. Mark two escape routes from each room. Post these where the kids can see them. Make sure you have a ladder if needed in a bedroom.
- Have a home hazard hunt. Look for items that may be dangerous; faulty wiring, heavy objects on high shelves, pictures above beds, food storage items that are not secured on shelves (we learned this the hard way with our earthquake).
- Prepare for a blackout. Get a crank or battery-operated radio, home phone line, battery operated flashlights (long shelf life and LED lights), extra batteries, gas or charcoal grill, Dutch oven, portable propane stoves, and a portable gas heater for warmth.
- Have a large family first aid kit. Make sure to check it every year for expired items. Pain relievers, band-aids in lots of sizes, triple antibiotic, little scissors, cortizone, wraps, and a thermometer.
- Get fire extinguishers-teach your kids how to use them=PASS-Pull the pin out, aim the extinguisher, squeeze or press the handle, sweep from side to side at the base of the fire. We have them in all of our bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry room.
- Do you know where the water valve, gas valve, and the electrical breaker are and how to turn each of them off? Do your kids know how to do that?
- Create a home inventory for insurance and tax losses. There are apps for your phone that allow you to take a picture and write down each item in each room. Also, invest in a fireproof box for important documents like birth certificates, passports, etc.
Get your finances in order. You never know when you or your spouse could lose a job or get injured or sick. It is best to be ready for every situation!
- Have some cash at home.
- SAVE!!! Get an emergency savings. I like Dave Ramsey’s baby steps… first save $1,000, then pay off debt, then save 3-6 months of expenses, then put 15% towards retirement, then save for Kid’s college, then pay off home.
- Create a budget. I love using the EveryDollar app. Stick to it!
- Get insurance…Life, Auto, Health, Disability, Homeowner’s, Earthquake, Flood, Long-Term care, and Identity Theft protection.
- Be frugal. “Use it up. Wear it out. Make it do or do without.” You do not have to have the newest or top of the line products. Look for discounts. Use coupons, get it refurbished, get creative and save! One of my favorite Valentine’s Day memories was when we were struggling to make a budget so decided to only spend $20 on each other. It was fun to get creative searching for a gift!
- Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. I love thrifting and finding deals there.
- Pay your tithing. This is by far the #1 thing you should do to have more $$$. It sounds counterintuitive, but I can tell you that if you pay the Lord first He will open the windows of heaven to pour blessings upon you and your family. While we have been blessed monetarily (like when we received a check for the exact amount of tithing we had just paid), usually we see the blessings come in a more round about way like: good health, a car that never dies, a loved one bringing us dinner, deals at the store, etc. Big or small, you can be sure that those blessings will come when you pay the Lord first.
There are so many more things we could add. Pick one to start with and go for it! Never stop preparing! Preparing your family will help them be confident in what to do in any situation. It seems that the more we prepare the less fearful we become. I have a list of things we need to work on like finding a better place for our 72 hour kits and adding to our food storage. What are you going to start on?
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