If emergency preparedness has been on your mind lately, you are far from alone. As the world struggles to contain the spread of COVID-19, this issue has been brought to the forefront.

Just weeks ago, we may not have worried about having two – four weeks of food on hand in case of illness, shelter-in-place situations, or quarantine, or about having enough medication for such situations.

Planning for an outbreak, natural disasters, power outages, and other events that may disrupt our lives is important. Keep calm and make a plan.

Hope for the best… and prepare for everything else.

What If…

There Is An Outbreak?

This is certainly top of mind right now. Use reliable resources, like the CDC website, to help guide your plan. Include:

  • Plans to care for vulnerable family members. If you have household members who are elderly and/or have existing health conditions, speak with their health care providers about steps you can take to mitigate their risk.
  • A list of local resources that you can turn to (and write down their contact information). This may include your children’s school, relief organizations, churches/houses of worship, city council or select board, neighbors, etc. If you need information, support, or resources, they can help direct you to them.
  • Hygiene best practices. Make sure you remind your household members to wash their hands frequently for 20 seconds, sanitize frequently touched surfaces (doorknobs, countertops, phones, computers, etc.), cover their coughs and sneezes, and refrain from sharing food or drink.
  • Plan to designate a separate room if a household member becomes sick. You want to keep them from spreading the virus to others. If you have an extra bathroom, reserve it for the ill person’s use only.
  • Plans for remote learning for your children and remote working for you, if applicable.
  • Plans for staying active and entertained if you must self-isolate, shelter-in-place, or quarantine. There is a silver lining here: if you are not ill but must stay home, use the time to do a spring cleaning, tackle improvement projects, play games, read books that you’ve been meaning to get to, keep in touch with your friends and family members via video chat, and exercise (there are plenty of free streaming videos you can do in the comfort of your living room). Support your small local businesses and pick up some puzzles, art supplies, and other items.

Please, avoid panic buying. This creates artificial shortages that can have a devastating impact on vulnerable folks. It is a good idea to pick up some shelf-stable items (beans, rice , pasta, canned goods, canned tuna, etc.) and medications (cold/flu medications, ibuprofen, acetaminophen) in case you become ill and cannot leave your home. But remember, no one needs a year’s supply of toilet paper at this point! Cargo is still moving, and the government will not shut down grocery stores.

Please visit the CDC website for more information on emergency planning for COVID-19.

There Is a Natural Disaster?

In Indiana, we’re most likely to face tornadoes or flooding. Prepare by:

  • Posting emergency numbers in a central place (e.g. the refrigerator). List police, fire, poison control, school, childcare, work, and important relatives.
  • Choosing an emergency contact. In many cases, it is helpful if this person lives in another area or state. You can call or text them to keep them informed during a natural disaster.
  • Keeping your important documents together. Store them in a plastic bag and then put them in a fire/waterproof box so they are ready to go if you need to evacuate your home. You should have:
  1. Copies of each family members’ driver’s license and passport
  2. Social Security cards (or at least know the numbers for each family member)
  3. Copies of birth certificates
  4. Copies of medical records (including vaccinations) and veterinary records, if you have pets
  5. Car, home, and health insurance policies and contact information for your insurance agent
  6. Titles for your car and deed for your home
  7. Bank, credit card, and investment account numbers and contact information for each institution
  8. Wills, living wills, and powers of attorney
  9. Photos of your property (to help if you need to file a claim)
  10. Most recent tax return
  11. Prescriptions for medications and eyewear
  12. Copies of your most prized family photos (and/or a hard drive that contains them)
  • Packing a go-bag in case you need to evacuate. Include enough water for three days for every member of your family, nonperishable foods, clothing and footwear, sleeping bags, first aid kit, battery powered radio, flashlight/extra batteries, basic tool kit (with duct tape), personal care and hygiene items, and money.
  • Preparing food and water. If you do not need to evacuate, services may still be interrupted, and you may not be able to get to a store. Having a few weeks’ worth of shelf-stable items is smart. Again, there is no need to panic. Every time you grocery shop, for example, just pick up an extra bag of rice, a few more canned goods, or a pack of batteries to add to your supply.
"The purpose of emergency preparedness is not to instill panic or fear; in fact, having a plan for your family helps you achieve a sense of control and even comfort in uncertain times."

There is Extreme Weather?

Blizzards and winter storms often rip through our neck of the woods. Typically, it is best to remain in place as travel is extremely dangerous. Your emergency plan for extreme weather should include many of the elements we have discussed here: ensuring you have shelf-stable items, including those that do not require cooking (eat out of the can; we won’t judge), water, batteries, flashlights, and items to entertain your children and yourself is important.

You will also need to make a plan for heating your home. If you have a wood stove, this is great. You can also use it to cook on. If not, make sure you have winter-rated sleeping bags for each member of your family, wool or fleece hats, gloves, and socks, and thermals to wear under your clothes. You can also purchase inexpensive hand and foot warmers.

If you use a kerosene or propane space heater, please use caution. There is a risk of both fire and carbon monoxide poisoning. Never leave these heaters unattended, and do not let children have them in their rooms. Have a central location where your family can gather to stay warm.

Know where your town/city’s emergency shelter is in case of brutal cold (or heat).

Plan for what to do if you are at work or in your vehicle. These are not optimal situations, but you can prepare by packing an emergency bag in your car that includes:

  • Warm clothing
  • Winter-rated sleeping bags and/or space blankets
  • Nonperishable food
  • Flashlights
  • Sand or cat litter in case you need traction during a storm
  • A portable snow shovel
  • Emergency flares
  • Jumper cables
  • Battery powered radio. As the cold can sap the life out of batteries, it is a good idea to have a hand crank radio for emergencies. The same is true for flashlights.

If you hear that bad weather is on the way, make plans for your family to return home as soon as possible.

If There Is a Fire?

Get the family together and talk about your plan. Make sure to:

  • Walk through your home and identify all possible exit routes.
  • Check and, if necessary, change your smoke/CO2 detector batteries. They should be installed on each level and outside of each sleep area.
  • Install emergency release devices if your windows or doors have security bars.
  • Designate a meeting point outside of the home.
  • Reinforce the message that everyone is to exit the house immediately; they should not stop to gather items.
  • Assign someone to assist infants/small children.
  • Remind your family that they must not go back into a burning building.
  • Practice. Fires are terrifying for everyone, particularly children. Practice helps instill calm. If there is an emergency, you know what to do. Muscle memory kicks in too, and you will “follow your training.”

Do you have an emergency plan for your family? If not, there is no time like the present! And if you do, make sure to review it with your household members and take steps to prepare proactively. The key to emergency preparedness is just that… to prepare. If and when a crisis strikes, you will be ready. Remain calm and put your plan into action.

We value each and every one of our homeowners. If you need assistance or would like to discuss safety features for your custom home project, please do not hesitate to contact G&G Custom Homes.

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