When it comes to your family’s safety, it always pays to be prepared. That counts for pool safety, boat safety and beyond! After all, these are uncertain times. No matter what dangers your family is facing, a proper plan can save lives. In today’s blog, it’s time to prepare a family emergency plan.

What is a Family Emergency Plan?

As many of us have learned in the past year, disaster can strike at any moment. You can’t necessarily predict how and when your life may be suddenly uprooted by a potentially deadly threat. Keeping this in mind, let’s talk about a family emergency plan. This simple yet comprehensive plan is unique for every family. It will change based on your unique needs and circumstances. However, the core of the plan is the same. It should always be designed as a way to get you and your loved ones out of harm’s way. Ideally, this plan will also help to prevent you from becoming separated during a panic.

The sad truth is that most of us never take the time to build an emergency plan. According to FEMA, nearly 60% of American adults have not practiced what to do in a disaster. Beyond that, only 39% have developed an emergency plan. For our readers, it’s time to change this uncomfortable fact.

Stay Alert and Alerted

Common sense can help a great deal when preparing for trouble. Depending on where you live, your family emergency plan needs may be different. For example, if you live in an area that frequently experiences hurricanes or storms, you should prepare accordingly. That is also true for floods or earthquakes. On the west coast, wildfires are a serious current threat. Before you start your plan, take these likely events into account.

Before trouble begins, keep a close eye, or ear, on emergency warnings from the news or government. Knowing ahead of time is half the battle, so be sure to listen to any available emergency warnings.

Personal Dangers

When it comes to your family, don’t neglect the various ages and conditions of your family members. Older people or those with disabilities may not be able to hear or move as quickly as others. Small children and infants may not be as capable of taking care of themselves, so you’ll need to make special accommodations for them ahead of time.

Medical Kits and Supplies

No matter what danger you are facing, be sure to build a disaster supply kit. This should have everything you need, including a flashlight, first aid, a battery-operated radio and more. To help you prepare, the Department of Homeland Security has created a handy list of items that it recommends you include in your disaster supply kit.

After the Storm: Flooding Danger

It pays to plan ahead, but don’t forget to check your kit each and every year. Some items can expire, such as batteries, which can leak.

Plan an Evacuation Route

Above all, make sure to agree upon a meeting spot close to your home. In the event of a catastrophe, your whole family should know to meet there. It will help to prevent you from becoming separated.

Next, make sure every family member knows the emergency phone numbers. For young children, write these on a contact card or backpack card. This should include numbers for nearby emergency contacts or guardians, a nearby hospital and, in case all else fails, an out-of-area emergency contact.

Next, if you have to abandon your dwelling during a storm or otherwise, it pays to organize ahead of time for a place to stay. This should be done as far in advance as possible. Hotels become overbooked quickly during a disaster. The best-case scenario is to organize a place to stay before the trouble begins. Even if you don’t end up using this space, it helps to plan ahead.

This helpful video from FEMA can illustrate many of these Family Emergency Plan points:

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Finally, the golden rule of preparing a family emergency plan is to practice. During a quiet weekend, get the family together and go over the rules. Take some time to identify the responsibilities for each member of your household. Finally, get in your vehicle and drive the evacuation route together. Be sure that you understand how to drive in the rain and ways to prevent possible injuries. In addition, have alternate routes in case of inoperable roads.

This should be done more than once. Ideally, this family emergency plan will be practiced until each member of your family has committed it to memory. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use this family emergency plan. That said, if the worst does occur, you’ll be glad you planned ahead.