How To Create An Emergency Preparedness Plan For Your Family

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How To Create An Emergency Preparedness Plan For Your Family

Having an emergency preparedness plan for you, your family, and anyone who lives in your home gives you peace of mind.

Planning for emergencies gives you comfort. You can rest assured that if and when one happens, you and your family will have a plan and be prepared.

Prior to COVID-19, I would have only told you how to create an emergency preparedness plan in case of a fire, earthquake, tornado, or some other naturally-occurring disaster that would force you to leave your home.

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In these uncertain times, there's another emergency preparedness plan to take into consideration: How to prepare to be in your home for extended periods.

There are a few things included in both emergency preparedness plans that are unique to leaving your home as well as for sheltering in place.

Here are 4 steps to create an emergency preparedness plan when you have to leave your home.

1. Take pictures of everything.

Since you’re leaving your home and you don’t know if and when you’ll be able to return to it, the first thing to have is a good inventory of the contents in it.

You will need this to prove to the insurance adjusters the value of that which you lost.

The simplest way to do this is to take pictures. There are programs, like HomeZada, that allow you to upload pictures and to note the value of different items, so you have proof for insurance companies if you need to make a claim.

2. Backup and organize your digital files.

Create folders in your computer for sensitive and vital documents.

Birth certificates, social security numbers, drivers' licenses, car titles and registration paperwork, marriage license, medical records and prescription records, passwords to your financial and investment accounts, insurance documents, healthcare proxy, durable power of attorney for healthcare, and for finances, will, and more.

You can download these documents onto a jump drive and store them in a secure cloud storage site.

3. Create an emergency preparedness "go bag."

Have a change of clothes, some extra toiletries (toothbrush and toothpaste, hairbrush, small shampoo, deodorant, lotion, soap, and hand sanitizer), a towel, and an extra pair of closed-toe shoes for every member of your family packed and ready to grab and go.

Also include a couple of flashlights and batteries.

Include  anextra phone, laptop computer, and charging cords in this bag.

4. Pack a cooler with water and snacks.

If you're leaving during a winter storm, pack some blankets in the car along with a snow shovel, a bag of kitty litter for in case your tires get stuck, and a small brush to clear snow from your windshield.

If you have a pet, be sure to pack their bowls, food, extra water for them, and any copies of their veterinary records.

Typically, you have at least an hour warning as to when a natural disaster may occur. If you prepare in advance, this is a relatively easy task.

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Here are 6 steps to create an emergency preparedness plan when you have to shelter in place:

1. Have documents on hand for any family member you'll need to communicate on behalf of for legal or medical reasons.

The vital documents that I previously listed are important to have prepared. If someone gets sick and is unable to communicate, you must be able to act on their behalf, either by taking care of the bills or by making medical decisions.

To do that, you need to have the healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney for finances in place.

2. Figure out what you'll need most for being at home.

Prepare to shelter in place by having what you need already in your home. Think about things you use frequently that may be in high demand.

Decide where in your home you will store these things. Do you have a shelf in your garage where you can keep things like extra paper towels, toilet paper, soap, hand sanitizer?

3. Prepare for limited supplies by buying non-perishables — not fresh meat and produce.

Purchase extra non-perishable foods like canned vegetables, beans, tuna fish, tomato sauce, and noodles, so that you can feed yourself and your family if you’re not able to either get to a grocery store or arrange for delivery.

Do not panic buy or hoard grocery items or paper products! You could be severely impacting and negatively hurting someone else's ability to provide for their own family. Buy what you will need to cover a couple of weeks at a time.

4. Have extra pet supplies, too.

If you have pets, remember to have extra food for them also. This may include buying extra kitty litter, medicine, flea and tick doses, treats, doggy pick-up bags, or even a backup collar or harness in case yours is looking frayed.

5. Prepare for your work-from-home needs.

There are things you may need to support doing business at home. Things like ink for your printer and printer paper. If you’re like me and take notes, you may also need extra notepads.

Think about where in your home you’ll set yourself up for business. Do you need to reorganize some furniture?

6. Include homeschooling your kids in your emergency preparedness plan.

If you have children, you may be homeschooling. Where will that take place? Do you need to purchase any school supplies?

You may want to have some board games or educational activities to engage them, as well as extra markers, crayons, glue, glitter, construction paper, and coloring books.

Think about the personalities within your family. What sort of things do they like to do? If baking is an activity they enjoy, stock extra baking supplies.

If building or crafts is an interest, then get the materials to support those activities. You know your family best.

As you’re creating your emergency stockpile to shelter in place, be mindful that other people need to do this, also. Be considerate and take only what you need for your family.

If you’d like more guidance in creating an emergency preparedness plan for a disaster or a shelter in place emergency preparedness plan, reach out to me. I’m always happy to offer assistance.

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Diana Quintana is a certified professional organizer and the owner of DNQ Solutions who teaches people how to become organized and maintain order in their lives. For more information on how she can help you, visit her website here.