Gone Outdoors

Emergency Preparedness Checklist

by Misty S. Bledsoe

Emergencies take many forms and can happen at any time. They happen unexpectedly or at least with very short notice such as with the case of tornado or tsunami warnings. Making an emergency preparedness checklist can help you and your family organize emergency supplies for your home and vehicles, increasing the chances you and loved ones will survive until more assistance arrives. Emergency preparedness checklists should include escape routes, coordination of communication, emergency supplies and help for pets.

Escape Routes

Evacutation route sign on highway

Schools, your employer and other business entities must have some sort of designated escape routes or evacuation plan both written down in the form of a documented procedure but also in the form of building layout drawings. These are similar to those you find on the backs of hotel doors that show the layout of the hotel with a red dot labeled “You are here,” with directions to the nearest exit. Cities that may be prone to tornadoes, flooding or tsunamis may have posted signs that will direct the flow of traffic to proper evacuation locations in the event of that particular natural disaster. Discuss and understand with your family the escape routes available to you. Draw one up for your home if you do not have one and decide on a place where you all will meet outside your home in case you must evacuate.

Coordinating Communications

Phone on counter

You and your loved ones may not all be in the same place when a disaster or emergency strikes. For example, the children could be at school while one parent is grocery shopping and the other or both may be at their place of employment. Cell phone usage is usually out of the question during a disaster, and regular phone lines may be down. Establish a family friend or relative out of state that you all agree to contact in the event of a disaster or emergency, and this person is then used as a point of contact. Oftentimes when you do find a working phone, long distance calls have a better chance of making it through versus local calls. Write down this person's contact information, including address, phone number and email addresses on an index card that each person can keep in a backpack or wallet. Make backup copies of important documents like driver's licenses, Social Security cards and insurance records and keep them in a safe place.

List of Emergency Supplies

Canned food in supermarket

Your emergency preparedness checklist needs to include a list of supplies that will keep you and your household surviving for at least three days. Whenever possible consider stocking up on canned goods and other nonperishable food items like powdered milk or baking mixes that require you only to add water. You should store at least one gallon of water per person per day for drinking and sanitation. Carry maps of the local area, flashlights and a hand-cranked radio so that you can hear news updates or instructions from emergency personnel. Included in your supply list should be a first-aid kit, an extra set of prescription glasses or contacts, 30 days or more supply of prescription drugs, including medical items necessary for wounded or disabled individuals, wrench and pliers to turn off utility shut-off valves along with extra sets of batteries for your flashlights and radios. Tarps, duct tape, rope and nails can be used to create temporary shelters if need be. Do not forget to include nonprescription pain medications such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

Family Pet Considerations

Cat in portable crate

Pets are often overlooked in emergency situations. Make preparations now to care for your family pet by making copies of veterinarian records, preparing a comfortable, portable crate or kennel for safe transportation along with food and water. Make sure your pet has all proper licensing information and is identified with name, contact information or an identifying microchip. Realize that in case of an emergency many emergency shelters do not allow pets, outside of service animals, to reduce potential health hazards to the human occupants. Make a list of hotels and motels in and around your area that are pet friendly.

Photo Credits

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