In an emergency, seconds count. That’s why it is so important that you take steps now to prepare your family for disasters.
Here in Kentucky, severe weather is the most common threat we face, and you don’t need to live here long to understand the broad scope and unpredictability of our weather. Throughout the year, weather related threats include tornadoes, flooding, straight line winds, lighting and winter storms. Still, families should plan for more than the weather. House fires, power outages, accidental hazards and much more could require your family to evacuate your home or neighborhood or shelter in place.
Develop a plan
Family communications plans can make all the difference when disaster strikes. Consider how much time you spend away from some or all the members of your family. For many, it is highly unlikely that all family members will be together at home when an emergency occurs. Determine now how you will get to a safe place, contact each other and reunite.
Family communications tips
Designate locations inside and outside your neighborhood where you will meet if you can’t reach your home.
Sometimes long distance calls are more successful than local calls during an emergency. Designate an out-of-state relative or friend through whom you can communicate.
Print contact cards for each adult member of your family. Have each family member keep these cards in their wallets and put them in children’s backpacks.
Teach your family members to text. Texts not only get through easier than a phone call, they leave phone lines open for emergency workers and people in danger.
Check with daycares, schools, workplaces, etc., to be sure you appropriately incorporate those procedures into your communications plan.
Assemble a kit
When disaster strikes, you may have to evacuate with little time to gather supplies. You also may need to survive on your own for days after a disaster. Assemble an emergency kit now with all the essentials your household will need and have it ready to grab and go. Be sure your family members know the location and contents of the kits.
Additionally, you may be at home, work or in your vehicle when an emergency occurs and it’s important to assemble a kit for each of those locations. Review these checklists from Ready.gov to ensure your family is prepared.
- Water, one gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation
- Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
- Needed medications
- Battery-powered radio, NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- First Aid kit
- Whistle to signal for help
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
- Dust mask or cotton t-shirt, to help filter the air
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
- Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
- One complete change of warm clothing and shoes per person, including a jacket or coat, pants, long sleeve shirt, sturdy shoes, hat and gloves
- Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
Below are some other items for your family to consider adding to its supply kit. Some of these items can be dangerous. Please have an adult collect these supplies.
- Emergency reference materials such as a first aid book or printed information from the federal Ready program.
- Rain gear
- Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils
- Cash or traveler’s checks, change
- Paper towels
- Fire extinguisher
- Matches in a waterproof container
- Signal flare
- Paper, pencil
- Personal hygiene items including feminine supplies
- Household chlorine bleach: You can use bleach as a disinfectant (diluted nine parts water to one part bleach), or in an emergency you can also use it to treat water. Use 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Medicine dropper
- Important Family Documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Keep items in airtight plastic bags and put your entire disaster supplies kit in one or two easy-to-carry containers, such as an unused trashcan, camping backpack or duffel bag.
Maintain your kit
- Keep canned food in a cool, dry place.
- Store boxed food in tightly closed plastic or metal containers to protect from pests and to extend its shelf life.
- Throw away canned goods that are swollen, dented or corroded.
- Use foods before they go bad and replace them with fresh supplies.
- Place new items at the back of the storage area and older ones in the front.
- Change stored food and water every six months. Write the date you store it on all containers.
- Re-evaluate your family’s needs and update your kit annually.
Prepare to shelter at work for at least 24 hours.
Include the following in your kit:
- Medicines and other necessities
- Walking shoes in case you are evacuated and need to walk a long distance
Include the following in your kit:
- Jumper cables
- Flashlights and extra batteries
- First aid kit and necessary medications
- Food items containing protein such as nuts and energy bars; canned fruit and a portable can opener
- Water for each person and pet in your car
- AM/FM radio
- Cat litter or sand for better tire traction
- Ice scraper
- Warm clothes, gloves, hat, sturdy boots, jacket and an extra change of clothes
- Blankets or sleeping bags
- A fully-charged cell phone and phone charger
- Flares or reflective triangle
Be prepared for an emergency by keeping your gas tank full. If you find yourself stranded, stay in your vehicle, put on your flashers and call for help.
LEARN MORE: Get more information about preparing for natural and man-made disaster and find helpful documents from Ready.