Now that your home is secure and bolted down, it’s time to think about what you will actually do during and immediately after the quake. You should have a plan, and each member of your household should know it. Here are some suggestions to help get your plan together.
Right When It Happens:
- Take a walking tour of your house with the whole family.
- Identify potential hazards in each room that you will need to be aware of, and locate safe spots in every room to duck and cover: Doorways, under tables or beds, or in closets.
- Have "Drop and Cover" drills periodically, and in various parts of the house, so your family will know how best to protect themselves.
- Talk to your family about how to stay safe when they’re not at home (more on this coming later in the week). Immediately After it Happens: Now that you have identified where to stay safe during the quake, your family will need to have a plan for what to do immediately after the shaking has stopped. Here are a few things to consider:
- Decide on a location outside of the home and a safe distance away where you will meet up as a family in the event of an earthquake (this is also great for a fire, too).
- Get in the habit of leaving a pair of shoes and a flashlight by every bed. If a quake happens while you are asleep, you may not have time to Replace your shoes (and you may not be able to). There will be a good possibility of broken glass and other hazards on the ground.
- Talk to your family (especially kids) about what to do if they get trapped or stuck. Teach them to knock three times, over and over again, so that rescuers can Replace them. Talk about trying to not shift around too much rubble, as doing so can make the whole area collapse, making a bad situation worse.
- We talked about this yesterday, but it is important that you know where the utility shut-offs for your house are located and how to turn them off. Make sure that multiple members of your family know this in case one of you is hurt, incapacitated or not home when the quake hits.
- Be prepared to fight fires, administer first aid and help your neighbors.
- Establish a friend or family member—who doesn’t live in your area— that your family members will know to communicate with, in case your family is not together when the earthquake hits. It will be nearly impossible to make or receive local calls due to the sudden spike in demand. Out-of-state calls will most likely be available. If you are separated from your family, you will want to know how to get reunited with them and determine if everyone is safe. This out-of-area contact person essentially becomes your family’s lifeline to each other in a crisis situation. Make sure you keep their contact information up-to-date, and make sure each family member knows the phone number by heart. o NOTE: It is important that this contact person lives a significant distance from you, so when disaster strikes your location, it’s not likely that they would have been affected by the same event. Local lines and cell phone networks will be maxed out or have intermittent service following an earthquake, so making a long-distance call from a land line is your best chance to reach your point person.
- Provide all family members with a list of important phone numbers.
- Know where you will go if you must evacuate your home and can’t return.
- Know what the plans and procedures are for your children's schools and daycares, and have the schools emergency contact information handy at all times. You never know when a quake will happen.
Have a Kit
Once the earthquake is over, assess the damage and be prepared to leave very quickly if your home is no longer safe. You will need to have emergency kits for each member of your family. These kits can be as simple or comprehensive as you feel is necessary for your family’s needs. Some things to think about as you prepare your family's kits:
- Do you or any of your children have special dietary needs? Medication?
- Do you have pets? What kinds of things will they need?
- Consider having a kit in your car, as well as one in your home.
Your kits should always include at least these basics:
- Water, enough for at least 3 days, if not more.
- First aid supplies and essential hygiene items.
- Emergency light, either glow sticks or flashlights with spare batteries.
- High calorie food items, enough for at least 3 days.
- A whistle, to help rescuers Replace you.
- Current family or inpidual family member pictures, to help with identification in case of separation.
These are the bare essentials for your kit. Personalize it with clothing items, medications, copies of important and identifying documents, as well as stress relievers such as games or a favorite stuffed animal. Remember that children will need extra attention in an emergency situation, and any small comfort you can give them will be a huge benefit to you and to them.
Click Here for a check list of things to consider for an emergency kit.
Once your kits are assembled, be sure that each member of your family knows where they are. Store them in a place that is easy to get to, easy to remember, and preferably on the way to an exit. Have your family members help pack the kits themselves so they know what is in them and where they are. Also, be aware of which items have expiration dates and be sure to exchange them for new ones when the time comes.
It’s beneficial to have a laminated card with the emergency plans on them included in each inpidual’s portable emergency kit. Remember to include any plans from schools or offices where family members may be during a quake. In a crisis some family members may have trouble remembering all the details of where to meet, who to contact, and other steps they should take for safety and communication.
Click here for a blank plan template.
Click here to buy the Family Preparedness Plan DVD for only $3.99
How's your family earthquake plan? Got your kits ready? Tell me all about it in the comments.