As someone who has found themselves wholly unprepared for minor emergencies like the sudden summer storm that flooded my basement or the winter blizzard that knocked out power for nearly a week, developing an emergency preparedness plan has become a personal passion of mine over the years. They say failure is life’s greatest teacher, and let’s just say I’ve endured enough mini-disasters to earn a PhD in emergency readiness at this point!
After one too many frantic Uber trips to the hardware store for emergency supplies or racing to charge every device before a blackout, I finally decided enough was enough. It was time to get my act together and prepare my family for anything Mother Nature or accident-prone Aunt Karen could throw our way next.
The first step was finally admitting I needed help. So I turned to expert emergency readiness sources like FEMA and the Red Cross to help this hapless noob transform into a capable crisis manager. Through their guidance combined with hard-earned lessons from my own emergency debacles, I’ve developed an easy 3-part system for preparing yourself and your family to handle anything from a disrupted vacation to full-on natural disaster. Consider it your ultimate emergency preparedness survival guide from someone who has endured many minor emergencies over the years and lived to tell the tale!
- Build an Emergency Toolkit
Having crucial supplies in an easily accessible emergency toolkit is step one towards preparation. Start by gathering essentials like water, non-perishable food, first aid, prescriptions, flashlights, batteries, cash, and more into a portable bin or backpack everyone knows the location of.
Pro Tip: Also include comfort items like games, books, and chargers to save your sanity if trapped for long stints without power. During last year’s Snowmaggedon fiasco, endless rounds of charades kept me from losing it after 5 days without electricity!
- Make an Emergency Plan with Key Contacts
Once your emergency kit is good to go, it’s time to map out your emergency action plan and share it with family and key contacts. Identify likely emergency scenarios for your area like fires, extreme weather, power outages, etc. and determine evacuation routes, plans for handling medical issues, and backup locations to meet if separated.
I recommend keeping this plan printed out and easily accessible to all family members. After all, locating the plan on your phone requires both power and WiFi—two things you likely won’t have access to in many crisis scenarios! And be sure to notify your out-of-town emergency contacts of rally locations or communication protocols so Uncle Joey doesn’t send rescue crews to the wrong site.
- Practice and Preparedness Drills
Congrats! You now have the tangible supplies and game plan to handle doomsday. But simply having these preparedness tools is not enough if you don’t know how to effectively use them. To truly ready yourself and family for emergency scenarios, you must get hands-on experience through regular practice drills.
Run through mock emergency scenarios at least twice a year. Time your evacuation routes, test backup equipment like portable radios, allow children to locate emergency tools, or set up temporary shelter areas. Identifying strengths and weaknesses in your plan BEFORE a real crisis hits lets you shore up gaps in a no-pressure environment.
Though I’ll likely never stop being the woman who once flooded her basement by foolishly leaving a sprinkler running overnight (hey, it happens!), having an emergency preparedness plan has given me essential peace of mind. I now rest easy knowing my family is truly crisis-ready to handle anything chaotic Aunt Karen or the unpredictable forces of nature throw our way.
And if disaster ever strikes your neck of the woods, you’ll be ready too by following this 3-step emergency preparedness plan. Just consider it your lifeline master guide handed to you directly from an expert who has already endured many utterly preventable mini-disasters herself! Stay safe out there my friends—and don’t forget to check those garden hoses!