Do you have an Emergency Plan?

Do you have an emergency plan in the event of severe weather? Have you discussed this plan with your family? The American Red Cross suggests the following:

1. Why make a plan?
Planning ahead will provide your loved ones with specific steps to take during any emergency. By having a practiced plan in place, you and your loved ones can make quick, informed decisions to better ensure the safety of your household, your pets, and even your property. Your plan should account for small scale disasters, such as single family fires, and for large scale disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes. Make sure to practice your plan, update your plan at least every six months, and post your plan in a visible location.

2. Household members and pets.
It is important to include EVERY member of your household in the planning process because they will be more likely to use it. Make sure to list every member of the household and the best way to contact them. In addition, list each pet/service animal and be sure you’ve made a plan for them in any emergency.

3. Local Contact.
A local contact could be a nearby relative, friend, or neighbor and should be someone you have several ways to contact.

4. Outside-of-Area Contact.
This is a relative or friend that is geographically removed from the disaster and relatively easy to get in touch with. Each family member should know how to reach this person and should contact him/her rather than further congesting local lines.

5. Emergency Information
Some important names and phone numbers to list in your plan include:
a) Your pharmacy;
b) Doctor’s office;
c) Insurance agents;
d) Utility Companies;
e) Place of employment;
f) Children’s Schools;
g) Anyone you’d need to get in contact with after an emergency.
These numbers are useful immediately following the emergency and to help speed up recovery time.

6. Additional Information
It is important to note any specific needs that your family may have: i.e. mobility issues, medications, etc.

7. Meeting Location (outside of the home)
As a household, identify a meeting place outside of your home that is a safe distance from the house to be used during a single home evacuation, such as a fire. Practice to ensure that the meeting place can be easily and safely reached. Each family member’s first priority is to get out and stay out. Call 911 for additional assistance.

8. Meeting Location (Outside of neighborhood)
As a household, identify a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if you are not able to meet at your home because of large scale evacuation, such as flooding. Practice to ensure the meeting place can be reached by several routes and everyone is familiar and comfortable with the location.

9. Home Evacuation Route
Every family member should know at least two exits from each room in the home. Map the layout of the house, the primary escape routes (in one color), and the secondary escape routes (in a different color). Make sure your loved ones know what to do in the hazards that can affect your home if both exits are blocked.

10. Out of Neighborhood Evacuation Route and Alternate Route
Every family member should know at least two ways to get to your out of neighborhood meeting place. Pre-map out your routes, knowing that one (or both) may be disrupted based on road closures or traffic. Have additional maps and/or GPS directions ready so you can be flexible and consider all your options.

11. Tornado Safe Spot
Every household should have a safe spot identified to go during a tornado watch or warning. Ideally, this should be a basement or the lowest level of a solid structure in the center most part of the building. Remember, a mobile home is never a safe spot to be during severe winds or tornado.

Tornado Safety Checklist

What should I do if a tornado warning is issued?
The safest place to be in in an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.

• Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
• If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately. If you need to drive to get to a sturdy shelter, always wear your seat belt.
• Don’t wait until you see a tornado to take action. If a warning is issued, seek shelter immediately.

Watch or Warning?

Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.
Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A tornado poses imminent danger to life and property.

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?
Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room (closet, hallway, or bathroom) on the lowest floor with no windows.

Watch for tornado danger signs:
• Dark, often greenish clouds;
• Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm;
• Cloud of debris;
• Large hail;
• Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base;
• Roaring noises.

Refer to our old posting on preparing an emergency kit. Remember to update this kit every 6 months.