It's the new year and time to create the perfect emergency prevention/disaster preparedness plan. What a great way to start out the year, right? Why not take a few easy, first steps to know that you've done everything you can to protect yourself and those you love?
Maybe this subject isn't very "sexy," and maybe it does require you to sit down and consider the basics of emergency planning, but let's face it . . . you need to do it! It's so important!
As we've mentioned in the Feeling Safe in a Shaky World series, one of the easiest ways to take that first step toward preparing for the unexpected is to purchase and fill out the
As our resident emergency expert, Deb Okoniewski, says:
"Taking the time to sit down and fill out the decals together is prep work, because you are discussing the information on what to do in case of an emergency. It is information sharing with family members on what to do. That is the first step in making your plan."
Once you've completed the Basics of Emergency Prevention and Disaster Preparedness, you might want to consider taking a few extra steps to make sure you and your loved ones are as safe as possible.
Top Household Safety Tips:
• Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver (visit www.americanheart.org). Take a class yearly to keep your skills sharp.
• Fill in the Go To Gals Emergency Decals. These important numbers and information should be kept near the phone, on the refrigerator, or anywhere you need them for easy reference. Put them in your purse, wallet, diaper bag, kid’s backpack, or give one to your babysitter.
• Make a First-Aid kit and keep emergency instructions inside.
• Install smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home.
• Always use age-appropriate car seats and booster seats in every vehicle.
• As a general rule, in all situations, scan your young children every 10 seconds and never
be more than 20 seconds away from them.
• Keep a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and on each floor of the home.
• Make copies of all important papers and documents. Store these documents in a watertight bag or pouch, along with your home emergency supplies, in a fireproof container or anywhere you can easily find it in case you ever need to evacuate your home.
• Make sure your disaster supplies include enough food and water for each family member for at least 3 days.
• Keep additional diapers, formula, and medication on hand.
• Read the First-Aid manual so you’ll understand how to use the contents of your kits.
If your children are old enough to understand, review the manuals with them as well.
• Store First-Aid kits in places that are out of children’s reach but easily accessible for adults.
• Check the kits regularly. Replace missing items or medicines that may have expired.
Teach Your Child to Call for Help
Even very young children should be taught to call 911 in an emergency. Your child should know:
How to dial 911 or the emergency number in your community
Their full name
Their full address
How to give a description of the emergency to the operator
It’s better to face the possibility of an emergency and prepare for it than be caught unprepared. Use the Go To Gals Emergency Decals to keep emergency numbers close for easy reference.
Install a natural gas detector. Your nose can usually alert you to a leak, but a detector can immediately find smaller leaks which can be just as dangerous.
• Insulate weak pipes with heat tape or cable.
• Stop the water supply to outdoor faucets before winter arrives.
• Make sure pipes are drained of water.
• During freezing weather conditions, keep a trickle of water running through pipes. • Keep your home thermostat set to 65 degrees, and expose pipes to the heat
(open cabinet doors).
• If you will be away from home for long periods of time, turn off the main water supply and set the temperature to no lower than 55 degrees.
Back up all computer files weekly.
Even if you have made a backup of your files, computer drives have a limited lifespan. Have 2 backup hard drives for your information, photos, and documents in case one of the drives fails.
Limit the number of items plugged into any outlet. Overloading an outlet can cause an electrical fire.
Store a flashlight in each bedroom for potential power outages or other emergencies.
Store an extra set of important household keys. Don’t forget to include extra car keys. If an emergency occurs, you will have every key you need on this one set of keys. You can store them with your important documents in a watertight bag or pouch.
Falls from ladders are one of the most common injuries for adults in the home. Always use both hands when climbing a ladder and make sure it is placed on a flat surface. Only use a ladder when another person is present to assist you.
Never use a space heater if you have small children in your home. These heaters are responsible for MANY burns to toddlers and children each year.
Wash your hands after handling extension cords. These can contain high levels of lead.
If you live alone, it is wise to check in with someone on a daily basis. If something happened to you, this support network would immediately know that something was wrong if you did not call or answer the phone.
All cell phones should have an "In case of Emergency" (I.C.E.) number programmed into the phone. Paramedics will call this entry first when trying to contact a victim’s family or friends under “I.C.E.” Paramedics are trained to call this entry first when trying to contact a victim’s family or friends in an emergency situation.
TOP TEN HOUSEHOLD SAFETY TIPS
Never throw water on a grease fire. Evacuate kitchen immediately. If it is a small fire, cover pan with a lid to delete available oxygen, or use flour or a fire extinguisher.
Throw away any expired prescription medication. Medication kept after its expiration date may no longer be effective. In some cases, it can become poisonous.
Remember that aspirin is NOT SAFE for a child under 16. This includes medications that contain aspirin (such as Pepto Bismol). Acetaminophen and ibuprofen have both been proven safe to use for young children (in the correct dosage). Always contact your pediatrician if you are uncertain about what medication to use and how to use it.
Throw away IPECAC! This once trusted remedy has been proven to be ineffective and unsafe. If poison occurs, your child can be treated with charcoal in the emergency room. Activated charcoal is not recommended for home use. Call the Poison Control Hotline in your country for more information. (U.S. 1-800-222-1222 or 911)
It takes only a few extra seconds to walk around your car before getting into the driver’s seat. Make a habit of doing this every time you get in a car. This small extra step could save the life of a child or a neighborhood pet who may be playing too close to your vehicle.
Check all household windows to make sure none are sealed shut. Windows can be an important escape route in case of fire or other emergency.
Use the 10 second rule. You should scan your children approximately every 10 seconds and not be more than 20 seconds away from them in most play situations—especially when playing in a pool.
Lights, lights, lights! Make sure you have a well-lit home. It shows that you are paying attention and taking care of your surroundings by giving the impression that you are at home. It takes only a few small adjustments to make your home look vibrant, lived in, and UNATTRACTIVE to crime. Most home crimes occur when a home looks vacant (during vacations, work hours, etc.). Having lights on timers can be a great advantage. Additionally, leaving a TV or radio on while you are away is a great way to give the impression that you are home.
Note the expiration dates on all food in your refrigerator, pantry, and cabinets. Clean the food out regularly. Food consumed past its expiration date is responsible for many hospital visits each year.
Know your neighbors. Keeping connections with others in your neighborhood means you have several people looking out for you and your family. The more connected your neighborhood, the safer the neighborhood.