Emergency continuity planning for your home

The topic on “Emergency preparedness” may come outside the box of “Natural living”. But this topic has been in my mind for a long time and I want to share some important points on “Emergency preparedness for your home” aka Emergency Continuity planning for your home which I think will be useful to the readers.

Many of you working in MNCs know the concept of BCP (Business continuity planning) and Emergency preparedness. As a new employee, you would have done web training course on BCP and emergency preparedness. By doing web learning and occasional fire drills, you know what to do when your office building is affected by Fire, natural calamities like earthquake, flood, other external threats like civil disorder, terrorist attacks etc.

What do you do and how do we prepare ourselves to face similar emergency at home? In this ever changing world, nothing is stable. Nature unleashes her fury in an unpredictable fashion (recent Tsunamis, forest fire, earthquakes are an important example destroying millions of homes and taking people’s lives). Growing civil unrest and terrorist attacks compels us to plan and get ready to face an emergency! We cannot completely avert the destruction that is caused, but we should be prepared and be equipped to face the emergency until we get necessary help from fire fighters, health care and government agencies.

I am going to touch on basic and important things to do when faced with an emergency at home:
What can happen to cause an emergency: Fire, Earthquake, Flood caused by Tsunamis, civil unrest, terrorist attacks etc.

When can it happen: Any time

What are the things you can do at home before-hand:

1. Install a smoke alarm in your home if you have not done it before.  Most of the homes in developed nations have smoke alarms. Important rooms that need to have smoke alarms are kitchen, family room and located outside separate sleeping area in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms. It will alert you when there is smoke beyond a certain limit.

2. Install a Carbon monoxide detector: A carbon monoxide detector is a device that detects the presence of the carbon monoxide (CO) gas in order to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning.  CO is a colorless, tasteless and odorless compound produced by incomplete combustion of carbon containing materials. While CO detectors do not serve as smoke detectors and vice versa, dual smoke/CO detectors are also sold. Smoke detectors detect the smoke generated by flaming or smoldering fires, whereas CO detectors detect and warn people about dangerous CO buildup caused, for example, by a malfunctioning fuel-burning device. In the home, some common sources of CO include open flames, space heaters, water heaters, blocked chimneys or running a car inside a garage.

3. Having a plan to protect yourself and your family:Make an emergency plan and communicate your plan with the family members. Things that you can plan and implement along with your family members are: (Source: ready.gov)

  1. Complete a contact card for each adult family member. Have them keep these cards handy in a wallet, purse or briefcase, etc. Additionally, complete contact cards for each child in your family. Put the cards in their backpacks or book bags.
  2. Identify a contact such as a friend or relative who lives out-of-state for household members to notify they are safe. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than to call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.
  3. If you have a cell phone, program that person(s) as “ICE” (In Case of Emergency) in your phone. If you are in an accident, emergency personnel will often check your ICE listings in order to get a hold of someone you know. Make sure to tell your family and friends that you’ve listed them as emergency contacts.
  4. Teach family members how to use text messaging. Text messages/SMS can often get around network disruptions when a phone call might not be able to get through.
  5. Subscribe to alert services. Many communities now have systems that will send instant text alerts or e-mails to let you know about bad weather, road closings, local emergencies, etc. Check this with your local council.
  6. Plan escape routes: Discuss the escape route and emergency location with your family members – where to meet in the event of an emergency. Record the location in the emergency plan form.
  7. Utility shut off: In the event of an emergency, it is important that all household members know how to shut off natural gas, shut off the water at the main house valve and where and how to shut off the electricity.
  8. Store your vital records – financial records such as insurance policies, deeds, property records and other important papers need to be stored in a safe place and which can be easily accessed at the time of an emergency.
  9. Cash in hand: It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a safe place where you can quickly access them in case of evacuation. It is important to have small bills on hand because ATM’s and credit cards may not work during a disaster when you need to purchase necessary supplies, fuel or food.
  10. Learn First Aid and CPR and learn to use fire extinguisher.

4. Emergency plan form:
Print few numbers of emergency plan form http://www.ready.gov/sites/default/files/FamEmePlan_2012.pdf, and each family member should fill the form and keep it in the emergency supply kit/ basic disaster supply kit and also in some safe place at your home where you can access in the event of disaster

5. Build an emergency supply kit:
We need to have an emergency supply kit ready and located at a place in the home where it can be easily accessed.

Some important items to be placed in your emergency kit are: (ready.gov)

Food and water:

  1. Water, one gallon of mineral water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
  2. Three days’ supply of non- perishable food available in cans
  3. Infant formula if you have an infant

Instruments and gadgets:

  1. Dynamo flash lights
  2. Extra batteries
  3. Battery powered radio
  4. Whistle to signal for help
  5. Dust mask or cotton clothing to act as a mask to protect us from harmful dust particles and fumes
  6. Can opener, wrencher
  7. Lighter
  8. Compass
  9. Signal flare (adults need to handle this)
  10. Map book
  11. Plastic sheeting

Clothing and bedding:
a. Warm jacket for each member of the family

b. Thermal blankets – sold in the shops in easy to carry small pouch form. See http://www.superiorhealthcare.com.au/BL430_or_1/Thermal-Blanket-_dash_-Silver/pd.php

c. Sleeping bag

d. Sturdy shoes

e. Warm clothing (as change of cloth)

f. Rain gear

Medicinal supplies:
a. First aid kit

b. First aid book for Adults and Infants

c. Hand sanitizer

d. Personal hygiene items

e. Medicine dropper

f. In case you have an infant, pack –  baby paracetamol, infant electrolyte solution

g. Paper towel

Important documents and valuables:
a. Cash, traveller’s checks, change

b. Copies of important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container

c. Emergency plan form and contact cards.

Hope the above points are useful to you. Please feel free to share your tips on ECP for your home in this post via comments. Bye for now. With Love from PetalDew


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