If you’re like most people, you spend more time planning your summer vacation than you do thinking about a family emergency plan. Fortunately, a few minutes spent now (and during your next trips to the grocery and hardware store) can pay huge dividends if your family faces the unexpected.
These tips come from the National Fire Protection Association, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Red Cross:
E M E R G E N C I E S I N S I D E Y O U R H O M E
If your home caught fire tonight, would ever y family member know how to get out safely? Make sure with a plan, and hold family f ire drills ever y six months.
• Find two escape routes from ever y room, especially bedrooms. Teach kids always to sleep with the
bedroom door closed (f ire takes 10 -15 minutes to burn through a wooden door, buying extra time to escape) and never open a door if it feels hot.
• Make sure windows can be opened quickly and that there’s a roof or drop-down f ire ladder to climb onto.
• Teach family members to escape a smoky room by crawling. The air is clearer near the f loor.
• If you live in a high-rise, take the stairs – not the elevator – to escape.
• If your clothes catch on fire, don’t run. Stop where you are. Drop to the ground. Roll until you smother the f lames.
• Set a safe meeting place outside (like the mailbox or a streetlight) so you can account for all family members. Tell ever yone NEVER to go back inside a burning home.
• Make sure even the youngest family members know to dial 9-1-1.
PE MC O Mu t ua l I nsu r a nce C o.
3 25 E a st l a k e Av en u e E a st
Se at t l e , Wa shingt on 9 810 9
1 – 800 – GO – PEMCO ( 1 – 800 – 467 – 3 62 6 )
N A T U R A L A N D M A N - M A D E D I S A S T E R S
The Northwest is no stranger to windstorms, f loods, earthquakes, man-made calamities like chemical
spills, and even volcanic eruptions. Make sure your family could cope on its own for a few days without basic ser vices like water, gas, and electricity.
• Choose a meeting spot outside your neighborhood where family members can gather in case they can’t return home. Ever yone should know the location’s phone number and address.
• Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.” Because of jammed phone circuits, it’s often easier to call long distance after a disaster than it is to call locally. This person would act as a
go-bet ween so far-f lung family members can leave messages for each other.
• Teach family members how and when to shut off utilities like water, gas, and electricit y. They also should know where to f ind and how to use a f ire extinguisher.
• Put together an emergency kit with supplies for all family members and pets.
T O P 1 0 T H I N G S T O K E E P I N Y O U R E M E R G E N C Y K I T
In backpacks and plastic bins stored near a door way (think hallway coat closet or utilit y room), pack these essentials, which you could stuff in your car at a moment’s notice:
1. Three days’ worth of food and water. One gallon of water per person, per day (for drinking and basic sanitation). Choose easy-to-prepare foods like canned soups, tuna, and juice; granola bars; instant noodles; and peanut butter. Rotate with food from your pantr y so your stash doesn’t get stale. Include food for your pets, too.
2. Medicine. One week’s supply of all your family’s prescription and non-prescription medications
(rotate these). Include hygiene supplies, too.
3. Cash. ATMs get drained quickly in emergencies and, without electricity, neither they nor your credit or debit cards will work.
4. Flashlight. One for each family member, plus extra batteries. Make sure one is the type that you crank to recharge.
5. Blankets or sleeping bags. Critical if you must sleep in your car or at an emergency shelter.
6. Sturdy shoes, rain poncho, and a change of clothes for each family member. Include leashes for pets.
7. Basic first-aid kit. Include bandages and antibiotic ointment, tweezers, aspirin, antacid, and antihistamine.
8. Photocopies of important papers like insurance policies, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, and contact numbers for relatives.
9. Cell phone and charger or prepaid phone cards.
10. Toilet paper, duct tape, and baby wipes. You’ll be glad you brought those!