Each Spring the clock "springs forward" one hour, batteries get changed in smoke detectors and we scramble to file our taxes on time. This is also the time to make, or review, your Emergency Disaster Plan. Many of the same documents you use to complete your taxes are important to your Emergency Disaster Plan. Creating an Emergency Disaster Plan does not have to be overwhelming or time-consuming.
On any ordinary day you may have some ideas about the hazards in your community that put you at risk, and how you would respond to those risks if they became actual emergencies. The key is to write down those hazards and your response plans.
Every good plan starts with a hazard analysis to determine the risks. This depends on where you live in the country, in the state, and in your county. As a Florida resident, your risks are primarily from naturally occurring incidents: thunderstorms, lightning, structure fire, tornados, freshwater flooding, drought, wildfires and hurricanes.
Many of these risks are common and require small or minimal response on your part: staying indoors, clearing brush from around your home, or observing watering restrictions. A few, however, are not as frequent but the effects are widespread and may require you to evacuate to another building or another area of the state.
Once you've made a list of the hazards you face, the next step is evaluate what you need in order to respond to those hazards. For some hazards this can be as simple as having a designated meeting place and phone number for family members to call should you become separated, an evacuation map of your home in case of fire, and a place where you will stay in case your home is damaged.
However, for the larger hazards, more planning will be needed because they have the potential to affect the entire community. It is for these events that you need to have supplies such as food, water, and medicine as well as copies of your important papers. You will also need to consider where you will find shelter out of the area, and if you have pets, whether they can stay with you. It is also important to plan for a place to temporarily call home in the event that your home is destroyed and resources are limited in your community afterwards.
Now that you have identified what you will need to survive the hazards you identified, take a look around your home. Check your pantry. Is there enough food for three days that does not need to be cooked? If you have food must be cooked, do you have a gas or charcoal grill that you can use outside your home to cook with? As you go through your list of supplies, identify items that you can purchase in small amounts throughout the year to spread out the cost.
Pass It On
You have a plan and have taken your inventory of supplies and are preparing. Now, sit down with your family to talk through your Emergency Disaster Plan. Share the plan for each type of hazard, the expected response, and where important documents including the Plan and supplies are located. Include any family or friends located out of the area who have a role in your Plan, in the conversation. Encourage co-workers, friends and other family members to take some time to write down their Emergency Disaster Plan. Review your employer's Emergency Disaster Plan to ensure you know what is expected of you during an emergency and if it may affect your Family Emergency Disaster Plan.
Enjoy everything that Southwest Florida has to offer each day, practice your Emergency Disaster Plan with your family at least once a year and review it at least once a year for any changes or additions. When hazards threaten your community, listen to your local Emergency Management agency and activate your Family Emergency Disaster Plan accordingly.
Most Importantly: Evacuate when ordered to do so by your Local Emergency Management Agency. Also check with your local Emergency Management Agency for Family Emergency Disaster Plan assistance, and ask if they have a fill-in-the-blank template you can use to make it even easier to complete.
If you have a family member living in an assisted living facility, or nursing home, it is important to know what the Facility's Emergency Plan covers.
Source: Lee County Emergency Management