How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster by Creating a Family Emergency Escape Plan
Updated: Nov 20
As if 2020 hasn’t delivered enough drama, here in California, we have now earned the distinction of “gigafire” status, which in layman’s terms means, we have for the first time in California history a 1 million-acre fire.
Which is truly heartbreaking.
Luckily for our family, we are not currently in the “hot spot” of fires, but just a few years ago in May of 2014 we had a swarm of 20 fires that broke out in our local area, and it was beyond frightening.
We evacuated to several different locations not knowing if our home would be harmed.
Fortunately for us, the firefighters were able to get the fires under control before the flames got to our neighborhood, but there were many homes, businesses, and community areas that were completely burned and lost in those fires.
To be honest, I’ve been so focused on the Covid remote learning challenges with my kids, that I just haven’t allowed my brain to even think about emergency preparedness…
In a way, I think it just feels like too much for my brain to process.
Sadly, wildfires do not care about my emotional capacity, and these current California fires are the wake-up call that I need to be better prepared in case wildfires break out here in the San Diego area.
If that did happen, I’m a bit concerned that I would just freeze not knowing what to do…I am definitely one of those people who quickly goes into “reptilian brain” in emergencies…let’s just say, I am not an ideal candidate for an ER nurse position!
So, it’s time to get my act together and do some emergency preparedness. I know it’s one of those things that I will rest easier knowing I have a plan if I should even need it!
In case you too need to be a bit more prepared, I’m going to break down exactly what I’m doing to be as ready as I can be, and most of these suggestions would work for a myriad of natural disasters (earthquake, flood, fires, tsunami, murder hornets, etc).
And let’s be honest, the way 2020 is going, anything is possible…oh please don’t let it be the murder hornets!!
As I started to research what all I needed to be ready for a disaster, I began to feel mega-overwhelmed….evacuation plans, emergency contact info, 72-hour kits, home inventory….AACK!!!
It felt like a huge job to undertake, so I decided to break it down to fun-sized tasks to make it less overwhelming!
In this post, I’m going to give you a brief overview of what you need to have ready, and only focus on ONE THING… then I will link to other blogs posts so you don’t feel overloaded and stressed too!
Here is a brief overview of the things we will be pulling together in this series of posts about emergency preparedness.
1. Family Emergency Escape & Evacuation Plan
In case of emergency, it is imperative to have a plan that everyone in your family knows and has practiced.
In this blog post, I am going to solely focus on this first step.
2. Grab and Go List
A Grab and Go List is a master list of all the things you should load in your vehicle if a natural disaster should occur and you need to evacuate.
3. Home Inventory
In the event that your property, home, or possessions are damaged or destroyed it is imperative to know what you have in your home.
4. 72 Hour Emergency Kits (& Pet Emergency Supplies)
Each family member needs to have a kit with the basics to survive 72 hours, and if you are a pet owner, don’t forget to have enough supplies for your tiniest family member.
5. Family Meeting and Practice Drill
Once you have all of your plans and supplies ready, it’s time to gather the family, share the plan, and practice!
Essentially there are 5 things you need to be prepared for a natural disaster, and I’m going to make this task feel a bit less enormous for myself and tackle one component each week until it’s all prepped and ready to go!
This week my only focus is putting together a family emergency evacuation plan.
FAMILY EMERGENCY ESCAPE & EVACUATION PLAN
A. Emergency Binder - The first step is to create a binder where you will keep all of your important emergency documents.
I chose a red one-inch binder so I would associate the color red with “emergency” but whatever you have on hand will work!
B. Escape Map - If you have young children who are more visual, I would recommend drawing a map of your home and discuss the ways you would exit your home in case there is an emergency. Ideally, every room in the house should have 2 exits.
First Alert has their own downloadable free template for you to draw your home and how you would exit each area.
C. Family Emergency Plan - In your binder, you will also add a family emergency plan that lists all of your family members, your meeting locations, emergency contact numbers, and other important numbers.
Be sure you have a home meeting place (our is at the end of our driveway), a neighborhood meeting spot (we chose our community tot lot park nearby at the end of our street), and a regional location in case of a widespread danger i.e. fire, gas leak, etc. (the 7/11 convenience store about 3 minutes away is our regional meetup spot)
Here is the template I created for my family.
Just in case your phone is not working or is lost, you should keep a copy of this list of emergency numbers and addresses written on a paper in your home and in all of your vehicles.
Now you have the first step in emergency preparedness complete…your escape routes and emergency plans are put together and ready to go!
See, that wasn't too stressful!!
Next week we will move on to the next step - getting the Grab and Go list ready to roll!
Until next time, cheers to being prepared and cheers to you!🥂