Are you ready for an emergency? If you are like 60% of Americans, the answer is “no.” In a kick-off event for National Preparedness month held this week in Staten Island, N.Y., FEMA administrator Craig Fugate reported that 60 percent of Americans were without a family emergency plan.
Since experiencing some minor emergencies myself (snowstorms, flooding) I’ve made it a goal to not only prepare my own family for an emergency, but to help others do the same. I realized that no one I knew was really prepared for the situations that often accompany a disaster – an urgent exit, being unable to leave your home, the loss of power. Ask yourself these questions to determine if you are ready: Could you locate all your important papers in a matter of minutes? Would your supply of medicines last two weeks? Do you know where you would meet family members if you were separated and could not communicate? How long would your food and water supplies last?
Let’s face it, most of us don’t like to think about bad things happening. If it weren’t for the fact that we were required by banks and government agencies to have insurance to replace our homes and cars in a disaster, most of us would probably be happy to go through life without it.
But don’t worry. You can start organizing for a disaster right now, without spending a dime.
Creating a vital file is one of the first steps you can take to become organized for an emergency. A vital file holds all important household, medical and banking records in one place. Keep it safe, but let someone you trust know where to find it should you be unable to get to it yourself. Use my vital documents checklist to get started.
Creating a family communications plan is another essential part of being organized for an emergency. Emergency experts recommend that you create a contact card for each adult family member to keep in their wallet or purse. Place contact cards for children in their backpacks. Designate a person out of state to contact if you are separated. It is often easier to make calls out of state than in-state during a disaster. Set up an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number on your cell phone. First responders will often use cell phones to contact family members in an emergency.
You can find more resources at the ready.gov website, operated by the Federal Emergency Management Association.
We can’t stop disasters, but we can plan for them. So please don’t put this task off for another day. Tell your friends and family. Be safe.