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June 12, 2014

Be Prepared; Have a Family Emergency Plan

Montgomery, Ala. – Severe weather can happen any time of the year. The best way to prepare for it is with a family emergency plan. If you don’t have one, develop one. If you have an emergency plan, review and update it, then go over it with your family at least once a year.

An emergency plan should include how everyone will contact each other, where to go, how you will get back together and what to do in different situations. A good place to begin is Ready.Gov, the disaster preparedness website managed by the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Forms are available at that site for contact information on each family member, phone numbers of out-of-town contacts, work locations and other important phone numbers.

Also inquire about emergency plans in places where your family spends time, such as work, school and daycare. Incorporate this information into your plan.

Identify an out-of-town friend or relative as a contact person for your family members. During an emergency each member of the family will call the contact and let them know they are safe. An out-of-town contact may be in a better position to communicate among separated family members.

Decide where to go in an emergency. Plan for different scenarios, such as where to go if there is a fire. Where in the home is the safest place if a tornado hits? If you live in an area susceptible to hurricanes, decide whether to evacuate or stay. Plan several evacuation routes, if possible, in case some roads become impassable. Identify where you will stay until it is safe to return home. If you have pets, find, in advance, places to board them or hotels and shelters that are pet friendly.

During a wide-scale disaster, such as tornado or hurricane, prepare for power outages. Keep fresh batteries for flashlights, keep cell phones fully charged. If you don’t have one, consider purchasing a cell phone charger for your vehicle. Also, keep your gas tank full.

During hurricane season, keep a basic disaster supply kit of nonperishable food, water, first aid supplies, medicines, disposable diapers, formula and baby food (if necessary), plus extra food and water for pets. Don’t forget a manual can opener. Keep these items in a waterproof container and include enough food and water for several days.

A battery-operated weather radio will be invaluable in an emergency. These radios can be programmed to your local weather service office and will provide information on approaching severe weather in your area. Heed their advice if you are directed to evacuate.

Keep enough cash on hand to get through several days. Banks will likely be closed and ATMs won’t function during a power outage.

Several government agencies work together to help you and your family stay safe. If you would like additional information, try these links: