In the wake of the recent flooding that hit Oklahoma and Texas, homeowners should learn to be prepared for anything. How can you be ready for the unknown? By arming yourself with these three things: an emergency evacuation plan, an emergency disaster kit, and a home inventory.
Emergency evacuation plan
It’s critical that homeowners have emergency evacuation plans so that family members know how to get to safety in the event of a flood, fire, earthquake or tornado. Check out our Disaster Guide, too.
Families – particularly those with young children – should create a plan by drawing up blueprint-esque maps of every floor of the house and identify two exits from each room. The drawing should be explained to your children thoroughly and displayed in a very visible spot in the home.
Children should also know your family’s meeting place by heart. A meeting place should be a safe distance from the home such as a mailbox or stop sign that would allow members of the family to escape harm such as a fire. However, some emergencies are better handled by moving to a safe spot within the home. Make sure your children comprehend the difference and know which spaces to report to in the event of a disaster such a tornado.
Practice the various scenarios of emergency evacuations with family members at least twice per year so that the process is ingrained into their brains. Plan some practices after children have gone to sleep so they’re ready any time disaster may occur. It may be wise to warn your children that an emergency evacuation practice is coming so that they don’t get scared or panic.
Finally, establish a safe place for family members to meet in the event that you get separated. This haven can be a shelter or a relative’s house that everyone should make their way to in a disaster such as a flood. This is important because you can account for everyone quickly.
Another critical part of being a homeowner is having and maintaining an emergency kit that includes supplies for you and your family in the event of a disaster while waiting for emergency responders. Having a kit already put together can be beneficial as you may not have time to gather important supplies.
The American Red Cross advises that emergency kits include:
- Nonperishable foods and a gallon of water per family member per day for a minimum of 72 hours
- A first aid kit
- Hand sanitizer or moist towelettes
- A battery-operated radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries
- An all-purpose tool such as an army knife
- A week’s worth of the prescription medications needed for each family member
- A whistle to alert emergency responders to your location
- Copies of important family documents (insurance policies, the deed or lease to your home, medical information, passports, and birth certificates, for example) in a waterproof container
- Cash or travelers checks
Emergency kits should include supplies to help your family get by no matter what disaster may strike, so be familiar with the disasters that are common in your area and plan your kit accordingly. Keep your kit up-to-date by switching out items such as food or medications that may be getting close to expiring.
Lastly, make sure that the kit is stored in a location that can be easily accessed.
Have a home inventory
The final tool that becomes extremely beneficial in the event that disaster strikes is a home inventory. A home inventory is a complete list of all of your possessions and their values.
To make a home inventory, go through your home taking photos and/or jotting down descriptions of your possessions and detail when you bought each and how much it’s worth. If possible, include receipts from the original transactions. Get started by downloading a blank list here.
This list will come in handy if your home and its contents are destroyed – you won’t have to create a list from scratch while distressed. To protect the list and ensure that it’s available when you need it most, store one copy of your home inventory in a waterproof container in your home and another copy in a safety deposit box. It’s also good to store a copy electronically.
Be prepared for any kind of emergency by equipping yourself and your home with an emergency evacuation plan, an emergency kit, and a home inventory. These tools will allow you to keep your cool if disaster strikes and keep your family out of harm’s way.