Natural disasters happen quickly and often without much time to prepare. When you have a family emergency plan in place, you can save yourself some time and quit panicking. These are three things you should do NOW to prepare for future natural disasters.
How to Make a Family Emergency Plan
1. Make an Emergency Binder
You’re probably familiar with Home Management Binders. You know those massive binders that include everything about running your home- meal plans, chore lists, kid’s schedules, and everything else under the sun.
A Family Emergency Binder is meant to manage your family in an emergency. Some of the beefier binders include checklists for emergency kits and food information, but a basic Family Emergency Binder should be small and meant to grab and GO.
If there’s a quick evacuation for a natural disaster or a family emergency, you want to have something that is easy to grab that has all of your vital information, documents, and notes for your family.
What do you put in a Family Emergency Binder?
- Emergency Contacts/Numbers
- Financial Information
- Copies of Vital Documents
- Medical Information
- Legal Documents
- Insurance Information
Check out this entire post dedicated to creating a family emergency binder!
What to do:
- Read the post on creating a family emergency binder.
- Get access to the toolkit and print out the checklist
- Start working on your binder.
2. Start Collecting Supplies
I’m not going to give you a hefty list of things you need to buy- it’s not practical or budget-friendly when it comes to your family emergency plan.
Most of us are seriously underestimating how prepared we already are! Believe it or not, you’ve probably got a good amount of power outage supplies around your house.
Here are just a few examples of things you may already own:
- Light: candles, flashlights, matches
- Power: batteries, extension cords, generator
- Heat: blankets, hand warmers, firewood, fire starters, matches
- Cooking: non-perishable food, propane camping grill/stove
- Other: special toys for the kids, wind up radio, first aid kit
If disaster strikes, will you know exactly where to find each of these items?
What to do:
- Gather power outage supplies into one or two spots in your home so that they are easy to grab and find when the power goes out. You don’t want to have to search for them!
- Make a note of things you’re running low on or items you might like to have, and add them to a list. As you have the budget, get the items on your list!
3. Find Your Main Shutoffs
In an emergency, you need to shut off your utilities to prevent additional damage to your home. Take some time to locate your utility shutoff valves as well as your main electrical panel, so you know where they are in an emergency.
You’ll find your home’s gas shutoff valve near your gas meter. You will need a large crescent wrench to turn off the gas and once the gas is off, do not try to turn it back on yourself. Call your utility company or another qualified professional.
You’re looking for something that looks like a big handle that controls ALL of your home’s power. For some homes, the main circuit panel or electrical box is outside, where the power lines connect to the home. In newer homes, the service box is often in the garage. Flip it to the down position, and your home will have no power.
There are multiple water shutoffs in every home. Your home has a main water shutoff and water shutoffs to individual components (sinks, toilets, washer, etc.). In an emergency, you only need to focus on the main shut off. The main water shutoff valve for your house looks like a giant, metal valve with a sturdy handle. Usually, you’ll find an outside water shutoff valve below the hose bibb in the front of your house. If the main shutoff is inside the house, you’ll see it near the water meter, or it may be near the top of the water heater or your well pump.
What to do:
- Find each of the shutoffs and note their location in your emergency binder.
That’s it! Those are the three things you should do now to start working on your family emergency plan.