Anna Messina's Blog
Preparing your home for emergencies in advance is important. Waiting until the last minute increases the danger and could cause harm to your family that you could easily prevent. Here you'll learn how to prepare the inside of your home for emergencies.
Get Familiar with Your Home (and tell your kids too)
Make sure you know how to disable all the utility lines in your home. It means knowing where to find the shut-offs for electricity, gas, and water just in case there is a problem with the services near your home. Downed power lines can cause shorts in your electronics and appliances, which can damage them or even start fires. It's important everyone in your family is aware of where to find these locations and teach everyone in your home as well. Keep your walkways clear in case you need to exit quickly and work with your family members to memorize all the exits from your home. Practice moving through your home in the dark in case of power outages and ensure that your family knows where to find candles and flashlights in the dark. Don't keep this information to yourself, if you happen to be injured, the rest of your family, kids included, will need to know how to help you and to keep themselves safe.
Build an Emergency Kit
OK, so this might sound like overkill, and sometimes it will be. However, if you've ever experienced an emergency with no power, food or water, you know just how important this is. For everyone else, it is better to be safe than sorry. Especially when "sorry" could mean the injury or even death of family or friends. Most of this emergency kit will keep year-round, so get it prepared and accessible, then leave it be. Make sure to update it as your situation changes.
- Water – keep a 3-day supply of water for your entire family. That means 3 gallons per person.
- Medicine – keep a week's worth of medication for your family. That means prescriptions, but also include a first aid kit and over the counter medicines like ibuprofen and aspirin.
- Food – prepare a week’s supply of non-perishable food that is easy to prepare. Your best options won’t require cooking or water, but if they do, make sure to plan with a camping stove and pots as well as extra water.
- Clothing and Sanitation – keep at least a three day supply of clothing (make sure to plan for different weather types) for each family member along with some sanitary wipes, dry shampoo, and emergency blankets.
- Radio – get an emergency radio so you can stay informed. Your best option will be a combination of battery and hand-crank power. Set aside extra batteries but be aware they will run out.
- Tools – get an extra toolkit, car emergency kit, flashlights, extra batteries, and any additional tools for your area such as ice scrapers.
- Contacts – get yourself a pre-paid emergency cell phone and keep it charged and with the kit. Make sure the phone has all your emergency contacts, including their emergency phone numbers when possible. If you end up without power for an extended period, that battery will die, so make sure to list the contacts in a physical notebook and include that as well
- Documents – make copies of all your family's important documents. That means birth certificates, medical notices, passports and IDs, and anything else you can think you might lose if your home is damaged.
- Pets – most emergency shelters don’t accept pets, so if you have them, make sure to find a pet-friendly shelter ahead of time. Your pet will need the same things as your family, so be sure to include water, non-perishable food, extra leashes and anything else you can think of that your pet will need
Remember to update this kit as needed. When your family needs change, update the kit accordingly. Do some research to find out what additional items you might need due to your particular living situation.
Your family needs to be just as prepared as you. Practice reacting to emergencies, and make sure that everyone has as much knowledge as you can. Older children are often capable of memorizing all the aspects of your emergency plan and helping out with injuries, smaller children and the elderly or pets. Explain all the elements of your plan to your children and create a manual or book they can study or reference. Its best to stick with picture-based instructions, think of the emergency flyer on an airplane for inspiration, so no one has trouble figuring out what to do if you aren't home or if they need to explain to their friends. Lastly, make sure that your whole family has everyone else's emergency contact information and knows how to reach emergency services.
If you prepare in advance, you can protect your family in case of disaster. Make sure to ask your real estate professional about the most common hazards in your area.