Disasters and emergency situations can happen anytime and anywhere. When disaster strikes, you may not have much time to respond, so it is important that you and your family are prepared. A hurricane, winter storm, earthquake, flood, tornado or any other disaster could cut off utility services for days and lead to evacuations or confine your family to your home for days. It is extremely important to know and put in place, the ABC’s of Preparation and by taking the time to acquire or develop a family emergency plan, build a family emergency supply kit and create a grab and go box, you can help to keep your family safe and make a bad situation a little more tolerable.
1. Always have a Family Disaster Plan in Place
Come up with a Family Disaster Plan and have people and numbers to contact in place. It will help to have secondary locations to meet and review with other family members. Make a list of animal shelters or veterinary hospitals in other cities where a pet may need to be temporarily sheltered in the case of an evacuation. Plan with neighbors, friends or relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate pets if you are unable to do so. DHEC provides a list of Shelters - If you must go to a shelter, take bedding, water, and food. You can call DHEC at (803) 898-DHEC (3432) or visit www.scdhec.gov or visit South Carolina’s Emergency Management Division at www.scemd.org for many emergency planning guidelines. If you have children or pets, you can place stickers on doors or windows to alert rescue workers during a fire or other emergency and you can include information on the number of children or pets and types of animals.
2. Build a Family Emergency Supply Kit
Prepare a family emergency kit by creating a checklist of items that you feel would be necessary for your own personal comfort and safety. Gather the supplies and store them in one or two watertight easy to store containers. Place the supplies you would most likely need for an evacuation in an easy to carry container. It will be important to store your kit in a convenient place known to all family members. Keep a smaller version of the kit in the trunk of your car during high risk seasons (ie. Hurricane season, etc.). Keep items in air tight plastic bags and be sure to rotate food and water items every six months so it stays fresh. Re-evaluate your kit and family needs every year.
For more information on preparing your own personal kit and detailed lists of these items you can send an email request to Jennifer@str8nup.org to get help building your family emergency supply kit.
3. Create a Grab and Go Box
Your Grab-and-Go Box should be small enough and lightweight so you can grab it and run with it. Your mobile emergency kit will contain copies and not originals of some vital personal and financial information. The list of information is so extensive because it is meant to help your family rebuild if your house gets destroyed or you don’t have access to it for a long period of time. You will want to add any items to this list that are essential to keeping your family finances on track.
When constructing your box, you’ll want to place papers in sealed, waterproof plastic bags. Use a durable, sealed waterproof box or backpack. Store box/backpack in a secure, easily accessible safe location of your home and tell everyone in the household plus a trusted neighbor or friend where it is. That way if you must leave quickly, you can grab it easily and go.
Checklists should consist of contacts, ID’s, emergency resources, medical information, financial information, household information, insurance/recovery information, legal information, an inventory of your stuff, and digital copies of documents backed up on a flash drive. Also, if you have a trusted out of state family member or friend that you can send a copy of your records to for backup in case of power outages or complete destruction, you will be able to retrieve the information needed quickly without hours, days, weeks and months of tracking down again.
Planning and preparation can prevent the unexpected from becoming a harsh reality. Taking the time prior to the emergency to prepare and organize important papers and documents will save you from unwanted stress and chaos in the case of a disaster.
For more information on creating your box and the specifics of information needed, you can send an email request to Jennifer@str8nup.org to get help building your grab and go box.
With these guidelines for the ABC’s of emergency planning in place, you will have the security of knowing you are prepared for disasters at a moments notice, your life can resume with some normalcy in times of displacement and your family is protected from the extra stress these factors can create in times of crisis.