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February 25, 2013

How Prepared Are You for an Emergency?

Most of us will face an unexpected event in our lifetime. Events that once appeared impossible are the new reality – hurricanes, earthquakes, power outages, and more. 

How prepared are you for an emergency?

The National Association of Professional Organizers Chapter in Michigan has provided a summary of the American Red Cross and FEMA recommendations for emergency preparedness.

1. Get Informed.  Know your community’s emergency plan including the following:

·        Community response plan
·        Community evacuation plan
·        Emergency shelter locations
·        Community warning/alert systems
·        Other community plans
2. Make a Plan. The best way to be prepared is to have a plan and communicate it to all family members.  The plan should include the following elements:

·        Communication Plan
o   Key Contacts List.  Prepare a list of key contacts that can be used by family members to seek help when needed.  The key contacts list should be placed in a visible location within the home, entered into every family member’s mobile phones or placed in children’s back packs. 
o   Designate out-of-state contacts.  Make certain that the key contact list includes contacts that are located outside the community and, if possible, outside the state.  It may be easier to call a person outside the area if a disaster strikes locally.
o   Define emergency meeting locations.  Identify a location outside the home and outside the community where the family can gather if they cannot access the home or the area due to a fire, tornado or other disaster.

·        Define Escape Routes Outline how to evacuate your home, subdivision and neighborhood.  If your home is two levels, a route to escape the upper level should be defined along with an escape ladder.

·        Define Shelter-In-Place Locations  Identify the locations within the home where you can take cover in a weather or disaster situation.

·        Obtain and Use Equipment  The following equipment should be obtained and checked regularly for functionality:  
fire extinguishers,
smoke detectors,
carbon monoxide detectors and
escape ladders.

Family members should be trained on how to use fire extinguishers and fire ladders.
3. Assemble a Disaster Supply Kit. A disaster supply kit should be assembled keeping in mind the needs of family members and pets.  A list of items to include can be found at: The supply kit should be placed in a designated, yet accessible, location for all family members.

4. Maintain Your Plan.  Your plan becomes effective only when it is communicated, practiced and updated.  Make a commitment to review your plan with the family at least annually by indicating a date on your calendar to perform this.  Regularly update any equipment, evacuation routes, key contacts or any plan aspects.

You will appreciate that you were prepared when an emergency happens!

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Article submitted by Chapter Member Mary Lynn Badr, Professional Organizer, Imagine It DONE, LLC.