During a disaster, one of your top enemies is panic. You can prevent feeling panicked when the unthinkable happens by creating an emergency plan for your home and business. By making an emergency plan, you can be ready to get to safety in a matter of minutes with the essential items you need.
Ways to Stay Panic-Free
- Plan a meeting place. With your family and/or employees, designate a meeting spot inside and outside of the home or office. For example, meeting spots can be the bathroom and the neighbor’s mailbox. These meeting spots should be the safest locations in and outside of a building.
- Establish escape routes. Plan at least two escape routes within a home or office and on the streets. Keep in mind that a road or an area of a building may be blocked during a disaster, so it is good to always have a backup route. Practice using these escapes routes on a regular basis so children or employees become overly familiar with them and are less likely to panic when they need to escape.
- Designate a contact person within your family or organization. This will come in handy if someone is separated from the group. Have family members or employees memorize the phone number and email of the designated contact person. It is also a good idea to designate an out-of-state contact in the event there are problems with the local telephone system.
- Print your emergency plan. Include the evacuation routes, important phone numbers and the location of important items you may want to retrieve after a disaster.
- Consider your essential items. When you need to get to a safe place, the last thing on your mind should be the documents or photos you left behind. Therefore, create digital copies of all your important documents and photos, regularly back them up on a flash or external hard drive and store them online. This way, it will be easier to restore damaged documents. Additionally, create a kit that contains cash, prescription medications, bandages, pain relievers, duct tape, flashlight, battery-powered radio and your printed emergency plan.
- Flag the items in your home or office. Sometimes during a disaster, you will have a chance to grab items of importance, such as photo albums, contracts and heirloom books. Mark the important items that you have time to grab before an evacuation with something that is easily identifiable. For example, you could stick a large reflective sticker on the spine of a book. For books and document holders that you do not want to ruin with a sticker, place a clear plastic cover around the outside covers of the book and place the sticker on the cover.
- Mark your calendar. Every six months, review your emergency plan, update the phone numbers in it and make sure all the supplies in your kit still work.
[Image: Bill Bradford]