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DEVELOP A FAMILY DISASTER PLAN
Disasters can strike at any time without warning. That is why Borough of Palmyra Office of Emergency Management prepares for all types of hazards. Our agency develops and maintains emergency plans for all types of natural and man-made hazards, and provides the analysis and recommendations necessary to make decisions that will effectively save lives and protect properties in such emergencies. Whether it is planning for a hurricane or tornadoes or a hazardous materials incident, we strive to be as prepared as possible. Just as it is important for Borough of Palmyra to be prepared, Borough of Palmyra residents also need to be as prepared as possible.
Developing a Family Disaster Plan
Disasters can strike rapidly, giving us little time to react. As we saw during recent preparations for Hurricane Rita, it is already too late to begin preparing if you didn’t already have a plan for your family. Preparing in advance for an emergency can give you and your family much needed time to develop a disaster plan.
Writing a disaster plan is easy and can be accomplished in a few basic steps:
- Make a Plan
- Prepare a Kit
- Be Informed
Step 1: Make a Plan
Hold a family meeting to discuss the dangers of fires, severe weather or other emergencies. How would you escape from your home if there was a fire? Who would you call in an emergency? Does everyone in your family have emergency numbers memorized?
Cell phones should not be counted on for communication during a disaster. During Tropical Storm Allison, many cell towers went under water. Also during September 11th and the London bombings, cell phone lines were overwhelmed and were of no use.
Designate two emergency meeting places outside the home. The first should be near the home, another should be in a central place near where everyone works/ lives.
Also assign two emergency phone numbers – a friend or relative where family members can call to in case they are separated from the rest of the family.
Here are some other tips that should be included in a family disaster plan:
- Teach responsible family members how to turn off the utilities in the home.
- Be familiar with escape routes in case you need to evacuate your neighborhood. Plan several escape routes for different contingencies.
- Find the safe spots in your home for each type of disaster.
- Draw a floor plan of your home. Mark two escape routes from each room.
- Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by each phone.
- Teach children how to use the phone, how to make long distance calls, and how to dial 9-1-1.
- Take a basic first aid and CPR class.
Step 2: Prepare a Kit
Disasters such as tornadoes, Hurricanes, tropical storms, and flooding can develop fast, leaving your family very little time to respond. Your family may then be without power, water, or telephone service for days. Additionally, you may have to evacuate quickly if a dangerous hazardous materials spill occurs near your home.
After a disaster, local emergency responders and relief workers will be on scene to help you, but it is difficult to be able to reach everyone immediately. It could take hours or days before help can come to your neighborhood. Preparing a disaster supply kit can help your family better cope with the situation.
Once a hurricane is bearing down on Texas or once the rains start flooding, you will not have enough time to shop or search for emergency supplies. Gathering the supplies in advance will ensure you have the proper tools to evacuate or batten down the hatches!
Checklist of Disaster Supplies:
Food and Beverages:
- Water – at least one gallon daily per person (minimum of 3 days)
- Juice Boxes/Other Drinks
- Canned Vegetables/ Fruit
- Peanut Butter/ Jelly
- Canned Soups
- Canned Meats
- Dried Meats
- Comfort Foods (Cookies, Crackers, Snacks, Hard Candy)
Cooking / Eating Utensils:
- Manual Can Opener
- Cooking Tools
- Fuel (Sterno, or propane for camper stove)
- Paper Plates
- Plastic Utensils
First Aid Supplies
- Antibiotic Cream
- Headache Medicine
- Insect Repellant
- Q-tips/Cotton Balls
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Toothpaste and Toothbrush
- Shaving Equipment
- Personal Hygiene Supplies
- Toilet Paper
- Paper Towels
Clothing & Bedding
- Blankets/Sleeping Bags
- Change of Clothes per person
- Change of footwear per person
- Sturdy shoes/work boots
- Work gloves
Tools & Emergency Supplies
- Battery-powered AM/FM Radio
- Extra Batteries
- Duct Tape
- Ice Chest
- Tools (Hammer, Screw Drivers, Pliers)
- Utility Knife/Swiss Army Knife
- Tarp/Plastic Sheeting
- Extra Set of Car Keys/House Keys
- Credit Card/Cash/ Travelerâ€™s Checks
- Liquid detergent
- Garbage Bags with Ties
- Plastic bucket with tight lid
- Chlorine Bleach
- Powdered Milk
- Adults with special needs
- All prescriptions
- Denture needs
- Contact lens/supplies
- Extra glasses
- Denture Needs
- Extra Glasses
- Hearing Aid Batteries
- Dietary Concerns
- Mobility Needs
- Copy of Vaccinations Certificate
- Photo of Pet
- Wills, Insurance Policies, Contracts, Deeds, Stocks and Bonds
- Passports, Social Security Cards, Immunization Records
- Bank Account Information
- Credit Card Account Numbers and Companies
- Inventory of valuable household goods, important telephone numbers
- Other family records (birth, marriage, death certificates)
Storing the Kit
Once you have collected all the items you want to store in your kit, you will need to determine how to store them. There are several options. Most of the items can be stored in a large Rubbermaid container in an accessible closet in the home. Organize the items in airtight plastic bags. If this container is too cumbersome, use smaller bags. Children can be responsible for their own disaster kits by keeping their needed essentials in a backpack with their name on it. You may also want to keep a similar but smaller kit in the trunk of your car.
Remember to change your food and water supply every six months so it stays fresh.
Also rethink your kit and family needs at least once a year as batteries will need to be replaced and the children may have outgrown their clothing!
Step 3: Be informed
Do you live in or near the floodplain? Is your child’s school near a rail line that potentially carries hazardous materials? Find out about the disaster plans at your workplace, your children’s school or day care center, and other places where your family spends time. Much of the information you will need can be found on this website or by clicking the provided links.
Step 4: Practice! Practice! Practice!
At least once a year, quiz your kids on disaster preparedness. Do they still remember the emergency contacts and phone numbers? Where is the family’s meeting point?
Replace stored water and stored food about every 6 months. Test and recharge your fire extinguishers and change those smoke detector batteries at least annually.