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Video:Create a Family Disaster Plan

with Dr. Mona Khanna

Everyone hopes a real emergency will never happen. Get tips on developing a disaster plan for your family and find out how you can be prepared..See Transcript

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Transcript:Create a Family Disaster Plan

Why Create a Family Disaster Plan?

If anything is predictable, it's that life is unpredictable. Natural disasters or unspeakable tragedies like 9-11 are never part of the plan, but they're not always avoidable. The very nature of a disaster is that it strikes quickly. If a major emergency occurs where you live, you may have to get by without water and electricity for days. Stores may be closed. You may even have to evacuate. Planning ahead can ensure that you and your family make it through a difficult time safe and sound.

What Type of Disaster Should You Plan For?

The starting point for an emergency plan is to first think about the disasters that are most likely to happen where you live. If your home is far from the ocean, tsunamis aren't a threat, but you might face a higher risk from tornadoes. You can check with your local Red Cross chapter to find out what type of disasters are most likely to occur in your area.

Create a Family Disaster Plan

The next step is to sit down with your family to create a plan. Start by setting up two meeting places. The first should be near your home. The other should be outside your neighborhood, in case disaster hits while everyone is out and it's impossible to get home. It's also important to have an out-of-state contact that family members can call so you can keep track of each other if you become separated.

Disaster Plan Hardware

The next step is to make sure you everyone knows how to turn off your gas and water. Then, check to make sure you have a fire extinguisher.

Disaster Plan Supplies

Supplies are also critically important. Start with at least one gallon of water per person per day at a minimum, plus plenty of canned and dried foods that don't need to be cooked. Don't forget the manual can opener. To start a basic store of supplies, plan to have enough water and food on hand for every member of your family for about 72 hours.

Other Essentials for a Family Disaster Plan

Some other essentials are a battery-powered radio and a flashlight, plus extra batteries, a first aid kit, and sanitary supplies like toilet paper, soap, and plastic bags for waste of all kinds. Don't forget about jackets and extra blankets if you live in a place where it gets cold in the winter. You should also think about other supplies your family might need - baby food and diapers if you have an infant, for example, or pet food if you have a cat or dog.

Keeping your children as happy and distracted as possible will help everyone cope better so books and games are a good idea, too.

Disaster Plan Emergency Evacuation Kit

Make sure to create an additional kit for your car, in case you need to leave quickly in an emergency situation. Once everything is in place, don't forget to practice the disaster plan with the whole family every six months so everyone remembers what to do in case of a real emergency.

Of course none of these things will prevent disaster from striking. But they can make a huge difference in how well your family weathers an emergency if something does happen where you live. Hopefully, you'll never have to put your plan to use. Even so, you'll probably sleep a little better at night knowing that you've done what you can to prepare.

I'm Dr. Mona Khanna, About Health.
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