Why is a Disaster Action Plan Needed?
The number one thing that all of the authorities agree on is that you as an individual and as a family should have a written Disaster Action Plan. All Schools are required to have them, most businesses have them (if they have more than just a few employees), all government facilities and buildings are required to have them (including Federal, State, and Local). The question then becomes Do you have one for your family and if not Why not?
The purpose of this article is all about pre-planning for a disaster and what our response to specific disasters will be as an individual and as a family unit. Survival as an individual or a family group will be determined in many cases initially by the decisions we make.
Panic and/or indecision in a time of crisis can be devastating if not deadly. It is easier to remain calm and focused when acting based on a predetermined and “Practiced” plan. I stress practiced because by practicing these drills as a family group everybody knows their role and what is expected of them in order for the family to work as a Team. It also helps reduce the stress and anxiety levels if everybody has assigned tasks to be responsible for in the plan.
It is also important that everybody know (children included) what the plan is. If only one person is familiar with the plan, what happens to the group if that person is incapacitated or is not present when the disaster strikes, what if the children are home alone. Would they know what to do? For their own protection and survival they should.
Having family practice drills does not have to be a scary experience if proposed correctly to the group. Make a game out of it, make it fun. Assign certain tasks for each person to perform and time them on their results. Change the scenarios; Play the “what if” game based on the different type of disasters from when everybody is home, to what do you do if Mom and Dad are not here? Decide on answers to questions like what to do first.
Example 1: For your children; in case of fire get out of the house, assemble at a safe predetermined place outside, once together have an assigned neighbors house for them to go to so they can safely wait for your arrival, share this information with the neighbor and make sure the neighbor has your contact information.
Example 2: in case of a tornado you need to have a predetermined location inside the house for the children to go to (Basement or safest possible room) with instructions on how to best cover and protect themselves.
By making decisions on these type questions in advance, as parents we have given our children direction as to what to do and will know where to look for them first, to reunite the family quickly.
Creating the Disaster Action Plan
There are some good sources of ready made Disaster Action Plan available online, one of which can be found at Ready.gov We will include links to some of these on our References and Resources page.
The plan mentioned above is a good general information page and covers the basic family information that needs to be carried by all members of the family (children included in case you get separated) with a separate copy to be carried in your survival kit.
This page covers information such as listing all family members with a brief medical history of each noting any special needs or conditions, a list of all emergency contact numbers with a least one being out of State, a list of emergency meeting places that you as a family should set up ahead of time.
Video about disaster action plan: