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  • Household and family

    There are four simple steps to preparing your entire family for disaster, whenever and wherever it strikes.

    1. Have a Kit with Emergency Supplies

    Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer. While there are many things that might make you more comfortable, think first about fresh water, food and clean air.

     Consider putting together two kits. In one, put everything you will need to stay where you are and shelter in place. The other should be a lightweight, smaller version you can take with you if you have to get away.

     You will need to make sure your have a gallon of water per person, per day for drinking and sanitation. Include in the kits a three day supply of non-perishable foods that are easy to store and prepare such as protein bars, dried fruit or canned foods.

    Some potential terrorist attacks could create situations where the air is full of unsafe material and is not safe to breathe without protection. These materials can only hurt you if they enter your body, so think about creating a barrier between yourself and any contamination. It’s a good idea to have something for each family member that covers their nose and their mouth - this can be two to three layers of cotton t-shirt material, handkerchief of towels or filter masks, all readily available in hardware stores. It is very important that whatever you use fits snugly so you are breathing air through the mask, not around it.

    Also, include duct tape and heavy weight garbage bags or plastic sheeting that can be used to seal windows and doors if you need to shelter-in-place in your home.

    See a full list of recommended items for your disaster supply kit.

    2. Make a Plan for What You Will Do in an Emergency

    Plan in advance what you will do in an emergency. Be prepared to assess the situation, and use common sense and whatever you have on hand to take care of yourself and your loved ones.

    Develop a Family Communications Plan

    Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so plan how you will contact one another in different situations and review your plans regularly. Consider a plan where each family member calls or e-mails the same friend or relative in the event of an emergency. It may be easier to make a long-distance phone call than a call across town, so an out-of-town contact may be in a better position to coordinate communication among separated family members. You may have trouble getting through, or the phone system may at first be down altogether, but be patient. Also consider that test messages and emails may go through when phone calls cannot.

    Depending on your circumstances and the nature of the disaster, the first important decision is whether to stay put or get away. You should understand and plan for both possibilities. Use common sense and the information you are learning here to determine if there is an immediate danger. Watch local television and listen to the radio for official instructions as they become available.

    Create a Plan to Shelter-in-Place

     There are circumstances when staying put and creating a barrier between yourself and potentially contaminated air outside, a process known as sheltering-in-place and sealing them room can be a matter of survival. If you see large amounts of debris in the air, or if local authorities say the air is badly contaminated, you may want to shelter-in-place and seal the room. Consider precutting plastic sheeting to seal windows, doors and air vents. Each piece should be several inches larger than the space you want to cover so that you can duct tape it flat against the wall. Label each piece with the location of where it fits.

     In such a situation, use all available information to assess the situation. Quickly bring your family and pets inside, lock doors, and close windows, air vents and fire place dampers. Immediately turn off air conditioning, forced air heating systems, exhaust fans and clothes dryers. Take your emergency supplies and go into the room you have designated. Seal windows, doors and vents. Understand that sealing the room is a temporary measure to create a barrier between you and contaminated air. Watch TV, listen to the radio or check the internet for instructions.

    Create a Plan to Get Away

    Plan in advance how you will assemble your family and anticipate where you will go. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency. If you have a car, keep at least a half tank of gas in it at all times. Become familiar with alternate routes as well as other means of transportation out of your area. If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if you have to. Take your emergency supply kit, unless you have reason to believe it is contaminated and lock the door behind you. Take pets with you if you are told to evacuate, however, if you are going to a public shelter, keep in mind that they may not be allowed inside. If you believe the air may be contaminated, drive with your windows and vents closed and keep the air condition and heater turned off. Listen to the radio for instructions.

    Know Emergency Plans at School and Work

    Think about the places where your family spends time; school, work and other places your family frequents. Talk to your children’s schools and your employer about emergency plans. Find out how they will communicate with families during an emergency. If you are an employer, be sure you have an emergency preparedness plan. Review and practice it with your employees. A community working together during an emergency also makes sense. Talk to your neighbors about how you can work together.

    3. Be Informed About What Might Happen

    Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling a supply kit and developing a family communications plan, are the same for both a natural and man-made emergency. However there are significant differences among potential natural threats, such as wildfire, flood, or outbreak and also for terrorist threats, such as biological, chemical, nuclear, and radiological, which will impact the decisions you make and the actions you take.

    This website can help, so be sure to read each section. You can also request a free brochure by calling 1-800-BE-READY (1-800-237-3239).
    By beginning a process of learning about these specific threats, you are preparing yourself to react in an emergency.

    Be prepared to adapt this information to your personal circumstances and make every effort to follow instructions received from authorities on the scene. With these simple preparations, you can be ready for the unexpected. Get ready now.

    4. Get Involved   

    After preparing yourself and your family for possible emergency, take the next step and get involved in preparing your community. See the Community section of this site for more information.

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