National Preparedness Month (NPM) is a time to practice your emergency drill. It’s a time to plan and prepare should a disaster strike. And it’s also an opportunity for families to learn the best ways to secure their homes and protect the people they love in case disaster strikes. Remember that preparing for disaster should be an ongoing process, and having a plan will reduce confusion and help everyone know what to do when an emergency happens.
Practical Strategies to Have in Place
Apart from ensuring that your family has supplies that can last at least three days during a disaster, there are more practical ways for parents can prepare. Here are some of them:
- Teach everyone in the family about emergency contacts and keep them where people can find them easily.
- Understand where to get reliable information about particular disasters in your area.
- Teach yourself and your family members about where they can get help. Learn also when help is necessary and how one can seek it.
- Learn about warning signs of an impending disaster, where to report such signs, and how to conduct yourselves afterward.
- Create an emergency plan with your family and keep it somewhere accessible easily by everyone. Don’t forget to discuss it regularly with everyone, including children. Children’s contributions can give you a different perspective on how you view disaster, and you can create a unique plan to keep them safe.
- Get everything you may need to carry with you during the disaster together ahead of time. For instance, keep passports, certificates, medicines, and credit cards easily accessible.
- The occurrence of a disaster can also lead to psychological problems like stress, anxiety, and worries. Everyone in the family needs to prepare psychologically to stay in their right mind and act responsibly in case of a disaster. Here are some things to consider for psychological preparation:
- Learn about the risks. It will help you stay in control and know what to do to be effective when dealing with disasters.
- Know what to expect, so it doesn’t come as a shocker.
- Conduct breathing exercises to help you and your family slow down breathing and remain calm when disaster strikes.
- Teach your kids to identify and label their feelings. Make them understand that identifying their feelings can help prevent panic attacks during disasters and help them take the right actions.
- Train every family member to know that feeling worried and stressed is normal, and they have to remain calm during emergencies. You can design coping statements like, “I can get through this.”
- Listen to your children and learn about any concerns they have. Correct them if they have misconceptions, and teach them the right thing.
Once you have an emergency plan, you can test it at least once per year to ensure that everyone can do the right thing when required. The emergency plan should have an evacuation plan. For instance, dedicate a meeting point somewhere to ascertain the number of safe people. By repeatedly teaching this, everyone will know what to do during emergencies.