Severe weather, wind or storm damage, unexpected fires or floods – these things happen every day. While we all like to believe they won’t happen to us, you never really know what’s around the next corner. With these 5 simple emergency preparedness tips, you can rest easier knowing that your home, family and business are well prepared for the unexpected events that may occur.
At least once a year:
- Walk through your house or business looking for potential water, fire or chemical hazards. Check the location and condition of fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms and emergency supplies. Be thorough. (For assistance with your Emergency Preparedness plan, check out our free Homeowners + Emergency Checklist)
- Take action! Safely dispose of old batteries, appliances and hazardous waste at your local area Hazardous Waste Disposal sites (most counties in Washington state have a dedicated page of local listings). Ensure that you have working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers in the appropriate places. Clear exits and walkways to ensure they are accessible in an emergency.
- Plan a fire/emergency drill with your whole family. Make sure each household member knows:
- Two exits from every room and how to use them.
- Any special responsibilities they may be expected to perform in the case of an actual emergency. For example, if you have pets, young children, seniors and/or disabled persons in the home, designate roles for each able-bodied adult to ensure that everyone can get out of the home safely until help arrives. Make a backup plan in case some family members are not home at the time of the event.
- Where to locate emergency supplies like flashlights, candles, spare phones, batteries, water, food, extra clothing, blankets and first aid kits. Try to keep emergency supplies in more than one place – for example, the house, and the car or garage. (Note: Stock 3 days worth of supplies for most disasters you might face in the Puget Sound region — including major storms or small earthquakes. You would need more like 7-10 days for a major catastrophe along the lines of a tsunami or Hurricane Katrina.)
- Set up a meeting place outside the home. Discuss how your plan will change if some members of the household are not at home when the event takes place.
- Talk about your priorities and expectations in very clear terms. If you expect your children to leave everything behind and get themselves to safety, tell them now. If they are at school during the event, make sure you know the school’s policies and that your children know exactly what you want them to do.
- Practice. Give everyone a chance to ask questions and work out any challenges that arise. (For example, in a window exit, is a ladder needed? Where is it kept and who will be responsible for putting it up?) Then practice again, until everyone is comfortable that they can do what is expected of them. After some time has passed, you may want to consider having an unplanned drill to see how everyone might do in the case of an actual emergency.
- Write down all necessary information – including a designated out-of-area contact – and post it to serve as a reminder of everything you’ve just agreed.