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Have a Communication Plan
The first concern is the safety of your family and loved ones. Because your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, it's vital to create a network of communication to ensure that everyone is accounted for and safe.
You and your family members should have:
- □ Each other's phone numbers
- □ School and workplace names, addresses, and phone numbers
- □ Procedure for who will contact who. It's sometimes faster to send a text instead of talking on phone lines that may be overloaded in an emergency.
- □ Known locations of where to go and meet in an emergency
Have an Evacuation Plan
A fire or flood is the typical reason for evacuation. But other disasters, like industrial accidents can also require evacuation. In some cases, evacuation is mandatory. In others, it's optional. The amount of time you have to react will depend on the disaster. You'll have more time for weather emergencies like hurricanes, but many other disasters require immediate evacuation. That's why planning is vital.
Here's what to do:
- □ Use your Communications Plan (above) to know in advance how you will contact your family members and where you will meet.
- □ Keep your car in good repair and try to have at least half a tank of gas at all times. If you don't have a car or don't drive, make arrangements with family members or neighbors.
- □ Familiarize yourself with evacuation routes in advance to avoid confusion.
- □ Leave early. If you wait too long, you may reduce your options or be forced to remain in place.
- □ Take your Emergency Kit with you.
Safeguard Critical Documents and Valuables
FEMA Recommends taking an inventory of your household documents, contacts, and valuables so that in the case of an emergency the recovery process can start quickly. "Taking time now to safeguard these critical documents will give you peace of mind, ensure you have access to essential medical and prescription information, and help avoid additional stress during the difficult days following a disaster." Download FEMA's checklist to get started.
If you're forced to ride out a storm, shelter in place, or take action in almost any disaster that might strike, this kit is vital. Your basic emergency kit should include:
- □ A gallon of water per person per day for at least three days
- □ A three-day supply of nonperishable food
- □ Radio
- □ Flashlight with extra batteries
- □ First aid kit
- □ Signal whistle
- □ Dust mask for contaminated air
- □ Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- □ Towelettes, garbage bags, and ties for sanitation
- □ Pliers and some basic hand tools
- □ Can opener
- □ Local maps
- □ Cell phone charger
- □ Prescription medications
- □ Water and food for pets
Since you have already equipped yourself you may be able to help your neighbors in the event of an emergency.
In the United States, most municipalities have disaster response and recovery plans coordinated by a local emergency management agency. If you want to help, one of the easiest ways to do so is to affiliated with an existing agency engaged in disaster response and relief like The Salvation Army. Sign up here to be a disaster volunteer.
The Salvation Army's Role in a Disaster
The Salvation Army is officially recognized by federal, state, and local governments across the country as a sanctioned disaster relief and assistance organization. All members of our Emergency Disaster Services team are ministering in that they serve as a means of expressing God's love to those in need.
We provide spiritual comfort and emotional support to people coping with the trauma of a disaster. This is our ministry of presence, and it's a key part of our work in every disaster or emergency.
Fill out the form to receive a free disaster readiness guide