Emergencies can strike suddenly and they can happen to anyone, leaving you with little time to react or prepare for a safe getaway. Because of this, it’s vital for every household to have a prepared course of action should a disaster occur. See the following list of advice from our team of Sonoma County fire safety experts for what to include in your own emergency plan.
1. Plan for common emergency scenarios – Be familiar with the most common disaster risks in your community such as wildfires or flooding and create a plan for all contingencies. Assess your emergency resources such as your GO KITs, first-aid, fire extinguisher, power generator, or non-perishable foods.
2. Plan for a safe evacuation - Depending on the scale of the emergency, plan to have multiple meeting places that are each successively further away from the evacuation zone. For instance, if a fire occurs while you and your family at home, designate a meet-up spot in your neighborhood such as a neighbor’s home, mailbox down the street, etc. If the emergency is more widespread, or if a disaster occurs when you are not at home and are unable to travel there, plan on meeting somewhere outside your neighborhood such as a library, church, or family friend’s home. You should also know the location of the closest hotels, evacuation shelter, or family friend with whom you could stay.
3. Plan for everyone – Some members of your home may require special accommodation during an emergency, such as people with disabilities, children, seniors, and pets. Plan on how they can safely and quickly be transported during an emergency with any supplies, such as medications or medical equipment, that they may need.
4. Plan to communicate – The first thing you want to do once you’ve evacuated is to contact friends and family to let them know you’re ok. Go to the American Red Cross Safe and Well website to list yourself as safe or to search for a loved one. You can also call 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767) and select the prompt for “Disaster” to register yourself on the phone.
5. Practice – Practice what you would do if a real emergency were to occur. Have an emergency kit fully stocked and easily accessible, and plot an evacuation route with several alternate options should any roads be blocked off. Have important routes and destinations saved on your cell phone, GPS, and on paper.
6. Create a written document – Create a complete write-up of all important information such as emergency routes and contact information for everyone in your house. Have the plan printed out and somewhere easy to grab on the go.
7. Review your insurance – Make sure you have the cover you need before an emergency situation arises. Review your policy with an agent to make sure you have coverage for all the high risk disasters in your area. In case the need should arise, make sure you know how to file a claim through your carrier’s loss reporting line or on their website.