When I was a kid, emergency preparedness didn't seem like a big issue. I figured a small town in the middle of Idaho didn't call for extensive preparations for disasters. In my young mind, the worst that could happen was someone could tip over a cow   and it wouldn't exactly require a disaster force to remedy that. I never understood the idea of emergency preparedness as a child, but now I do, and so should you. You want to be able to protect your family in the case of catastrophe, and doing so involves preparing, planning and practicing.

Even though your family may find it funny to practice for an emergency, it could make all the difference if catastrophe comes to call. It can take hours, or even days, for assistance to reach you so you need to ensure your household is ready to fend for itself.

Develop a Plan
Sitting down with your family and talking about what you can do when the walls start crumbling down is the best way to be ready. Make sure to talk about the right questions.

  • What are the likely types of emergencies that may happen in your area?
  • How will you respond?
  • What will you need?
  • How long may you be away from your home?
  • How will you communicate?

Also, make sure to prepare for separation. You never know what will happen, and having your children know their medical information can be an advantage. This can be anything from MyVitalData, which will email all your health care information to professional, to cards or bracelets that give health care providers vital information about your specific needs. .

Be Prepared
This Boy Scout motto isn't just for the camping merit badge. Gathering supplies and writing everything down for each family member can make a huge difference. Talk about each individual scenario with your family and how they would react to it. Teach them what to do if they hear the sound of a smoke detector or smell smoke.

Physical preparation should also include preparing some emergency kits. A few items you include in something like a 72-hour kit should range from fuel and lights to bedding and clothing. You should include generous amounts of food items that don't need refrigeration. It can be hard to get light or even information when in a disaster, so finding an emergency weather radio can give you a flashlight, lamp and detailed weather or emergency updates from the radio.

Practice Makes Perfect
You don't make it to the state playoffs without playing a few games. Practicing the methods designed by your family does mean going into a role-playing mode for a few minutes. Learn first aid and CPR, practice quickly convening in a designated meeting place, and make sure everyone knows the shutoff locations for electricity, water and gas. Keep emergency equipment updated, like fire extinguishers and smoke alarms, and teach your family how to use them. And even though your kids may not want more work after school, quiz them every so often about your plan.

Being ready for a disaster goes well beyond having a crank radio and a 72-hour kit. Education and practice can save your family if there's ever a disaster in your neighborhood. Share your plan with neighbors and friends. Whether you live in a sprawling metropolis or a farming town in Idaho, having a disaster plan in place is essential if you want to prepare for calamity.

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