Home Emergency Preparedness Guide

home emergency guide (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacehq/)

home emergency guide (photo by https://www.flickr.com/photos/usacehq/)

Home Emergency Preparedness Guide

Even in the most well protected home, disaster can strike. Accidents such as burns and falls, natural disasters, fire, leaks, and more can threaten your home -- and your family. The bad news is that you may not see emergencies coming, but the good news is you can prepare for them. Know your threats, how to deal with them, and the supplies you'll need to stay safe. Don't wait to prepare your home and family for an emergency, as emergencies won't wait for you.

Home Emergencies Families Should Prepare For

Anything can happen, and you should be ready to handle every emergency that can occur at home. Your family may face emergencies including:

  • accidents
  • natural disasters
  • flooding
  • tornado
  • hurricane
  • wildfire
  • carbon monoxide leak
  • earthquake
  • fire
  • burglary
  • home invasion
  • power failure
  • gas leak
  • water leak

Your Home Emergency Kit

Are you ready for a home emergency? Be sure you're prepared with the right supplies to handle any major event at your home.

  • First aid supplies: Your first aid kit should include dressings, bandages, cloth tape, ointment, antiseptic wipes, cold compress, gloves, blanket, scissors, a thermometer, gauze pads, tweezers, and a first aid instruction booklet at a minimum./li>
  • Food and water: You should have at least three days of bottled water and nonperishable food for every member of your family, including babies and pets. Remember to include a can opener and utensils.
  • Flashlight: In case of power outage, a flashlight can help you navigate your home safely. Place a flashlight in your main living area, by doors, and in each bedroom within reach of the bed. Stock your home with adequate replacement batteries as well.
  • Hand crank radio and phone charger: Stay in touch with family and authorities with a combination radio and phone charger that doesn't require batteries or home power.
  • Lantern or candles: Keep your home illuminated even when the power is out. Candles are a low-tech light source, but a battery operated lantern is a safer choice.
  • Smoke detector: In addition to hard wired smoke detectors, you should have at least one battery powered smoke detector on each floor. Test the battery monthly and replace as necessary.
  • Fire extinguisher: You should have a fire extinguisher on every floor of your home and an extra one in the kitchen. Be sure to check your pressure gauges regularly and recharge them when needed.
  • Carbon monoxide alarm: Avoid death or injury from deadly (and odorless, colorless) carbon monoxide gas with an alarm. Install one on every level of your home.
  • Leak alert devices: Find out as soon as there's a problem with water leaks or flooding. With a leak alert device under your sink, behind your refrigerator, in the basement, or at your back door, you'll get an alert if moisture is detected.
  • Fire escape ladder: In every bedroom, place a fire escape ladder near the window. Be sure to practice setting them up so you'll be ready if you ever need them.
  • Duct tape: Good for quick repairs and emergency fixes, duct tape can come in handy in a pinch.
  • Nylon rope: Useful for securing furniture before a storm, tying down loose items, or packing a vehicle, be sure you have an adequate length of nylon rope or tie downs available.
  • Baby wipes: Good for quickly cleaning any surface, they're also handy for washing your hands, face, and body if clean water isn't available.
  • Extra clothing and blankets: Be sure that you have a fresh change of clothes available as well as an emergency blanket, just in case.
  • Multitool: With screwdrivers, knives, pliers, a can opener, and more, a multitool is good for a variety of uses during emergencies.
  • Outdoor cooking grill: If you're going without power, you likely won't be able to cook indoors. Be ready with an outdoor grill and charcoal.
  • Work gloves: After a storm, fire, or other disaster, you may need to do some heavy duty cleanup. Protect your hands during this task with work gloves.
  • Area map: Even if you're familiar with your area, a printed map can help you identify alternate routes, find higher ground, and move to safer locations if necessary.
  • Cash and copies of important papers: Make copies of identification cards, insurance policies, your prescription list, and credit cards, and keep them with an emergency stash of cash. Keep in mind that during natural disasters and other emergencies, credit card machines and ATMs may not work.

Preparing Your Home for an Emergency

In addition to packing your emergency kit, you should take steps to make your home and family ready for an emergency. These include emergency drills, training, and securing your home.

  • Know the emergencies you're most likely to experience: Find out if hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, or earthquakes are likely in your community. Learn how to prepare for and manage each emergency, such as evacuation during a wildfire or hurricane, or sheltering in a safe room during a tornado.
  • Receive training in first aid and CPR: At least one member of your family should be trained in proper first aid and CPR.
  • Share and practice emergency plans with your family: Make sure every member of your family knows what to do in any type of emergency. For example, children should know that in case of fire, they are to immediately evacuate and meet you at your mailbox. Or in case of a tornado, family members should know which interior room to gather in.
  • Identify multiple routes: Every family member should know more than one way to get out of your home and neighborhood.
  • Photograph your valuables: Document the valuables in your home for replacement and insurance purposes. Store the photos in a fire and waterproof safe, or better yet, online in the cloud where you can access them from anywhere.
  • Choose and share an out of town emergency contact: Designate a friend or family member out of town that each member of your family can call to check in with. Be sure that your family members know this person and their phone number by heart.
  • Write down emergency numbers: While it's a good idea to keep emergency numbers in your cell phone for quick access, have them written down in your home as well in case your phone isn't working. You should have the number to your local police and fire department, school, doctor, poison control, and insurance company.
  • Find out how to shut off utilities: In case of an emergency, you may need to turn off your gas, water, or electricity, so learn how to take care of these ahead of time.
  • Secure firearms: If you have a gun or rifle in the home for hunting or self defense, be sure that it is stored inside a locked safe out of reach of children.
  • Identify community shelters: Find out where community shelters are in your area, then discuss with your family the route you'll take to get there if needed.
  • Secure breakable and heavy objects: Fasten heavy furniture securely to your walls and place heavy items on lower shelves, away from beds and seating areas and ideally behind latched cabinets. This is especially important if you live in an area prone to earthquakes.