Setting Up an Emergency Family Escape Plan
Not many families have an emergency plan in place in the event of a tornado, burglary, or other disaster. The fact is emergencies can happen at any time and they generally catch family members by surprise. How will you communicate with other family members when this happens? Staying on the same page is crucial and there are some steps to take to ensure this will happen. Each family needs to have a central location to meet in addition to knowing exits from each room in the house. Here are some other tips for sketching out a reliable emergency plan.
Knowing each family member’s contact information by heart is important. In addition to knowing the numbers of each immediate family member, get to know at least three neighbors’ cell phone numbers too. Keep all these numbers on a sheet of paper and tucked in your wallet or in your tragedy pack, which is outlined in more detail below.
Each room in the house should have a viable exit. Bedrooms, restrooms, and the basement should be exited via windows. Upper floors should be exited from windows and onto a lower roof where safe passage can be made to outdoor ground levels. Ensure each family member knows the point of exit from each room in the house including the parents’ bedroom and outdoor playhouse.
If you have a security system notifying you of monoxide, fire, intruders, and other dangers, great. But do not rely on this security system to be the only warning signal. Sometimes even the best security systems fail. In case of long-term emergencies, be sure to have a backup security system along with ways for family members to alert one another to danger (walkie talkies, whistles, etc.).
Besides a school backpack, everyone in the family should have an emergency tragedy-pack. When something goes wrong, you need to have the essentials for making it through the next 24 hours. This backpack should have the following:
- A change of clothes and multiple pairs of socks
- Warm jacket (in case of cold weather)
- Bar of soap and other small toiletries
- Advil or Tylenol
- First-aid kit
- Complete list of contact numbers
- At least a gallon of water
- Packets of dehydrated food
- Whistle signal
- Extra phone charger
- Flash light with batteries and reserve batteries
- Emergency bank card or valid checks
Each of these items should be packed into the backpack and positioned close to each room’s exit. In case of a fire, members should be able to quickly acquire the tragedy pack and exit the premises with it relatively easily.
A central meeting location must be established and ingrained within each family member’s mind. This location should be out of the neighborhood and at least 150 feet away from the household. It should also be an area easily seen from the home itself or at least well-known by all members (water tower, police station, fire station, or a large tree). When an emergency occurs, mental capacities can fade. Giving children and all family members the chance to see a meeting point will help to ensure each will go there during an emergency without having to think too hard about how to get there.
Once a month, quiz each family member and go over scenarios testing each family member’s grasp of the emergency plan. The goal is to instill a habitual knowledge within each member so that any thinking will not be necessary. In the event of an emergency, each member should know exactly what steps must be taken prior to exiting the household, how to exit the household, where to meet, and who to contact. This is one of those things you can’t put off until later, so if you have not sketched out a plan of action already, get it formulated now.