No one wants to think about disasters – fire, flood, storms, earthquakes, terrorist actions and more. But following advice from this NYC professional organizer and the Federal Emergency Management Agency can help your family to plan and prepare for disaster and could help you to come through a disaster, either natural or man-made, safely and with fewer disruptions.
First, be sure you know where you’ll get information in the event of a disaster. Contact your local emergency management agency (click for: New York, New Jersey or Connecticut) to learn how you will be notified for each kind of disaster. Ask about alert and warning systems for workplace, schools and other locations. Professional organizers in NYC suggest that you compile this information and keep it with your emergency kit. Depending upon the nature of the emergency and your circumstances, one of the first important decisions is whether to stay where you are or evacuate. You should prepare for both possibilities in case of disaster.
Make a Plan
It’s easy to overlook important details when your family is planning for a disaster, and you’re even more likely to do so in the event of an emergency. A family disaster plan is vital when preparing for a possible disaster. Fortunately, you don’t have to guess about what information to include or worry that you’ve forgotten something important. Download a copy of the Family Emergency Plan from Ready.gov and keep it in a safe place so that you know what to do.
Try to make planning fun and interesting for kids. Review your family emergency plan regularly during a family meeting or dinner. Ask children to discuss their concerns and worries and be sure they understand that there are different types of emergencies, which require different responses. Take them to your designated “meeting spots” so they’ll be familiar. The Ready Kids coloring and activity book is a downloadable 16-page kid-friendly guide to making an emergency kit, developing a family emergency plan and helping kids feel ready to deal with unexpected. There’s also a section featuring Flat Stanley and Flat Stella, book characters familiar to young readers. The Ready Kids section at www.ready.gov includes a number of resources for parents and teachers. After helping their families to prepare for disaster, kids can take an online quiz and earn a certificate from The Readiness U.
Build a Kit
Whether the situation calls for you to evacuate or shelter in place, you’ll need a well-stocked emergency kit as part of your family disaster plan. A basic emergency kit which professional organizers in NYC recommend that you assemble should include these Items:
- Water – one gallon per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
- Food – at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio, plus extra batteries
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to filter contaminated air
- Wrench and/or pliers to turn off utilities
- Manual can opener for food
Store food in tightly closed containers in a cool, dry place. Change food and water every six months. Update your kit as your family needs change, adding and removing items such as baby food and formula as needed. Keep your disaster kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trash can, large backpack or duffel bag.
Developing your family plan for disaster is critical to ensuring that all family members are prepared for any emergency.