Be prepared: Create a family emergency plan

Disasters can occur any time or place. Be ready with a family emergency plan—preparation is vital to safety and well-being.

Be prepared: Create a family emergency plan

When natural disasters occur, being prepared will make a huge difference in what happens at the point of crisis. Depending on your location and the disaster, whether it be floods, tornados, ice storms, or a fire, and whether you are “sheltering in place” or “relocating,” it is important to be ready and prepared. At some point, we all are going to face something as inconvenient as a few hours without electricity or as catastrophic and devastating as Hurricane Harvey in Texas, Hurricane Katrina in Louisiana or the December 2013 ice storm in mid-Michigan.

4-H clubs, youth groups, 21st Century Community Learning Centers and out-of-school programs can create basic emergency supply kits. Members, along with their family, can personalize the kits with their specific information. These groups and programs can also discuss how to support families and communities when catastrophic events happen. What are community, state and national resources to support children, youth and families?

A family emergency kit can sustain your family for 72 hours. These can be assembled in an accessible plastic bin or water-proof duffle bag. As you build your kit, place items in labeled, easy-to-seal plastic bags. A basic family emergency kit could include the following items:

  • One gallon of water per person for at least three days—this is for both drinking and sanitation.
  • Medications and non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea, essential oils, contact lens solution, personal hygiene items, etc.
  • Towels, sleeping bag or blanket for each person.
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation.
  • Items such as infant formula or something a specific family member might require.
  • Non-perishable food and a manual can opener for food.
  • Paper cups, plastic utensils, paper towels—think mess kits.
  • Basic home tools such as a wrench or pliers for turning off utilities; scissors; duct tape for sealing windows and doors; flashlight; and a large plastic sheet or tablecloth.
  • Extra batteries on various sizes.
  • Whistle to notify location and signal for help.
  • Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper to disinfect water.
  • Paper, pencils, games, puzzles and other activities.
  • Multiple charging devices and a backup battery for mobile devices.
  • Dust masks for family members.
  • Important family and personal documents, such as insurance policies and cards, identification, saved electronically or in a waterproof portfolio or envelop.

Pets are often overlooked when creating a family emergency plan. Since over 50 percent of all homes include at least one pet, you should consider all family members. The Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development recommends a pet preparedness kit is readily available in a safe location. A pet preparedness kit includes the following:

  • Your pet’s regular food in water-proof, clear plastic bags.
  • Water.
  • Leash and collar.
  • Non-breakable, plastic or light weight bowls.

Additionally, in labeled, water-proof, clear plastic bags:

  • Photo of your pet or identification, and a photo of you with your pet.
  • Information if your pet has been “chipped.”
  • Medications your pet needs.
  • Immunization and vet records (keep both updated).
  • First aid kit.
  • Contact list of pet-friendly hotels, veterinarians and out-of-town friends and family.
  • Toys, rope and sanitation bags.
  • Pet carrier.

Utah State University’s Discover 4-H series has a free 4-H Emergency Preparedness: Surviving A Zombie Apocalypse Curriculum for more information on preparing for an emergency.

Experiential learning and planning ahead can truly make a difference in your family’s safety and is a hopeful way to discover and experience through activities.