It’s Critical: Have a Plan

Jacob and Kim Riley were inspired to create a family disaster preparedness plan after the birth of their daughter, Emma.

Not only are Fairfield residents Jacob and Kim Riley ready in the event of a disaster, they’ve helped family and friends prepare as well. “We have a Facebook group that is just for family and close friends so we can communicate. We have put together a plan for what to do in any type of emergency,” explained Jacob, a service technician in the sign industry.

The Rileys were inspired to create their plan after their daughter, Emma, was born two years ago. “Having a child made me start to think about how precious life is,” explained Jacob. “You look to the future and think about dangers and what to do if the worst thing happens.”

So he began to write up a family plan. “We have paths and exit routes planned out and we know where we will all meet up, if it comes to having to leave town or something like that,” he said. “And we keep a three-day supply of food and water.”

They have an emergency kit in their home and backpacks with supplies in their vehicles. “People should consider, if they have children or babies, what kinds of things they will need,” added Kim. “Have diapers and formula and keep your supply updated.”

It helps that Jacob’s cousin is in law enforcement. “When I first started writing up the plan, I would show it to him and we would share ideas,” said Jacob.

Even without emergency experts in the family, there is plenty you can do to protect yourself and family should an earthquake, fire, flood or other disaster happen. In the aftermath of such disasters, electricity could be out for days and clean drinking water may not be available. You may be separated from family, or find yourself in need of a quick escape route.

“Having a child made me start to think about how precious life is.”

Jacob Riley

“Being prepared in advance is important, for our employees and the community at large,” explained Greg Duncan, assistant vice president of Facilities Operations at NorthBay Healthcare. “Disasters can have a tremendous impact on health care facility operations, often requiring ‘all hands on deck’ until things return to normal. Having families that are prepared results in fewer workers that we will be without and fewer people who will end up at the hospital needing care.” Greg and others recommend that families consider the following when planning for disasters:

WATER: Water service to your home may be cut off or contaminated. If grocery stores are open, the huge demand for bottled water may deplete supplies quickly. Most experts suggest storing at least one gallon of water per person to last three days. That’s because a normally active person needs to drink about three quarters of a gallon of fluid a day and maybe more depending on a person’s age, health, physical condition, activities, diet and climate. Pets need water too, so that should be considered in determining how much water to keep on hand.

“Most people probably don’t have enough fresh water and food on hand to withstand a three-day (or more) situation without power or water,” said Greg. “People may think, ‘Oh, I have a case of Costco water and I’m fine.’ But they may not be fine. You have to take into account how many people live in the house and if there are pets. If they are all sheltering in place, there may not be enough water.”

FOOD: Even though it is unlikely that an emergency would cut off your food supply for two weeks, consider maintaining a supply that will last that long, suggests the Red Cross. You can use canned goods, dry mixes, and other staples on your cupboard shelves. Be sure to check expiration dates. Foods that require no refrigeration, water, special preparation or cooking are best, and you should have a manual can opener handy.

MAKE A PLAN: Make an emergency survival kit that includes things such as a flashlight, batteries, medications, a first aid kit, sanitation and personal hygiene items, a blanket, extra cash and maps. Discuss with your family how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live, work and play. Identify responsibilities for each person and how you will work together as a team. Practice as many elements of your plan as possible and include escape routes and emergency meeting places.

MEETING PLACES: Decide on safe, familiar places where your family can go for protection or to reunite. Make sure these locations are accessible for household members with disabilities or access and functional needs. If you have pets or service animals, think about animalfriendly locations. And because everyone may not be together at home when a disaster happens, the plan should include ways to contact one another and two places to meet—one near the home in case of a sudden emergency like a fire, and one outside the neighborhood in case circumstances prevent people from returning home. The plan should also identify an emergency contact person from outside the area in case local telephone lines are overloaded or out of service.

HOUSEHOLD INFORMATION: Write down phone numbers and email addresses for everyone in your household. Having this important information written down will help you reconnect with others in case you don’t have your mobile device or computer with you or if the battery runs down. If you have a household member who is deaf or hard of hearing, or who has a speech disability and uses traditional or video relay service (VRS), include information on how to connect through relay services on a landline phone, mobile device or computer.

Home First-Aid Kit

✓ 2 absorbent compress dressings (5˝ x 9˝)
✓ 25 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
✓ 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1˝)
✓ 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approx. 1g each)
✓ 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approx. 1g)
✓ 5 antiseptic wipe packets
✓ 2 packets of aspirin (81mg each)
✓ 1 blanket (space blanket)
✓ 1 breathing barrier
✓ 1 instant cold compress
✓ 2 pair of non-latex gloves (large)
✓ Scissors
✓ 1 roller bandage (3˝ wide)
✓ 1 roller bandage (4˝ wide)
✓ 5 sterile gauze pads (3˝ x 3˝ )
✓ 5 sterile gauze pads (4˝ x 4˝)
✓ Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
✓ 2 triangular bandages
✓ Tweezers
✓ First aid instruction booklet

The Red Cross recommends all first aid kits for a family of four to include items on the checklist at left. The Mayo Clinic also recommends that people have two first-aid kits: one in the home and one in their car. Store your kits someplace that is easy to get to and out of the reach of young children. Make sure children old enough to understand the purpose of the kits know where they’re stored.

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