By Troy Carney
One of the most important tools you and your family can have to protect yourselves is a family emergency plan. It is important to plan ahead as a family for all types of emergencies and their corresponding responses. Every family member should understand their roles in what to do, where to go and what to take in the event of an emergency.
Find out what disasters are most likely to happen in your area and the history of their occurrence. Stay informed of any specific instructions or information you may need to know regarding these specific disasters.
Establish an evacuation procedure
As a family, discuss where you will go in the event of an emergency. Discuss where your children will go if they are in school at the time of the emergency, and make sure they understand where you will intend to be. It may be necessary to have a contingency plan for communicating with each other. Plan how you will evacuate family members with special needs and don’t forget your pets when making plans.
Develop a family communications procedure
Develop a comprehensive procedure as a family for communicating in the event you are separated during an emergency. Create a sheet or card with all the phone numbers and information every individual in the family may need, including an “in-case-of-emergency,” also referred to as ICE, name and number. Make sure every member of the family has a copy of the communications procedure. Save the ICE information in everyone’s cell phone. Be aware that in the event of an emergency, phone lines and cell phone towers may be out. It may be necessary to have a contingency plan for reaching each other.
Practice your plan
Set up practice evacuations or shelter-in-place drills for your family to ensure everyone knows what to do and where to go in the event of an emergency. Keep your emergency supply kit up to date, replacing water and perishables periodically. Make sure everyone knows where it is and to take it when sheltering or evacuating. Check your smoke alarms regularly.
Where to find additional information
— The Federal Emergency Management Agency website has information on making emergency plans for adults and children at https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan and https://www.ready.gov/kids/make-a-plan.
— A family communication plan example for parents and children can be found at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/34330.
— More information on family emergency communication plans can be found at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/108887.
— American Red Cross also has information on emergency family plans at http://www.redcross.org/prepare/location/home-family/plan.
— The Ready Army website – www.ready.army.mil – has information on emergency family plans as well.
Call the Fort Leonard Wood Emergency Management Office at 573.563.5606 for more information on establishing emergency family plans.
(Editor’s note: Carney is the installation emergency manager.)