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Monday, January 5, 2009

Simple Steps to Safety

Household Emergency Plan

Create a family emergency communication plan. Communication systems in a disaster area are usually disrupted, so it is very important that you can reach someone who is in a location that is not affected to be your family contact -- someone your family or household will call or e-mail to check in with should an emergency occur. Choose someone who lives far enough away that he or she is unlikely to be affected directly by the same event, and be sure to tell that person that he or she is your designated contact. After the disaster, it is often easier to call out of the region as the local phone lines might be tied up.

Make sure everyone memorizes this person's name and telephone number and knows to call your family contact if they get separated from the family. The Red Cross recommends you make a list of your designated contact's phone numbers (home, work, cell or pager) and e-mail addresses for everyone in the family or household. Make sure everyone, including the designated contact, has a copy of this list.

provide the emergency contact numbers to your children's schoolsIf you have children, provide the emergency contact numbers to your children's schools. Provide this same information to your workplace. Your family should know that if telephones are not working, they need to be patient and try again later or they can try to e-mail a message. People flood the telephone lines when emergencies happen but e-mail can sometimes get through.

  • Post emergency telephone numbers by phones (fire, police, ambulance, etc.). Keep a list of key telephone numbers and addresses near the phone. If there has been a major disaster, use the phone only if it is absolutely necessary. Emergency crews will need all available lines.
  • Teach children how and when to call 911 or your local emergency medical services number for emergency help.
  • Teach children how to make long distance emergency phone calls to reach out of town family contacts.
  • Instruct household members to turn on the radio for emergency information.
  • If you live in a house, show each family member how and when to turn off the supply of water, gas, and electricity at the main switches. Make big easy-to-see signs identifying breaker panel (or main circuit breaker), gas and main water supply and post the signs at those locations.
  • If you live in an apartment building, show everyone in your family the location of the emergency exits. Show them where the fire alarm is, and explain when and how to use it. In a fire or other emergency, do not use the elevators. You will be trapped in the elevator if the power goes out. Determine what your role is in your building's emergency plan, what to do if an alarm sounds and how to safely evacuate the building.
  • Check if you have adequate insurance coverage. Make sure you have adequate insurance coverage for the range of risks in your community.
  • Get training from the fire department for each family member on using the fire extinguisher and show them where it is kept.
  • Install smoke detectors on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms.

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