Home Disaster Preparedness

As a resident of Iowa, I've seen my share of disasters. For example, on June 11, 2008, four Iowa boy scouts were killed by a tornado in western Iowa. That same month, Iowa suffered the worst flooding in 500 years. All this came less than 2 months after a major 5.2 earthquake struck the midwest. Whether you're a parent or a child care professional, your children are counting on you to be prepared for disasters and keep them safe.

First of all, familiarize yourself with types of disasters that have occurred where you live. Even if you have lived in the same area for a long time, it's wise to do a little research to learn what types of disasters have occurred or frequently occur in your area. For example, I've lived in Iowa my whole life and yet, until this year, I had no idea that we had earthquakes in the Midwest. FEMA's disaster records (searchable by state) is a good place to start.

Learn about your city's disaster plans, the disaster plans at your and your spouse's places of work, and, if you're a parent, the school's disaster plans, as well. This information will help you develop your own disaster plans. It will also ensure that you're prepared if one or more of your family members is away from home when disaster strikes.

If you're a child care professional, type up your disaster plans and give a copy to your clients.

Plan how your family would stay in contact if you were separated. It is a good idea to have two meeting places identified, depending on the type of disaster or emergency. One meeting place should be near your home in the event everyone had to get out of the house to be safe. The other meeting place should be away from your neighborhood in case your neighborhood became unsafe.

Set up an emergency phone contact. Arrange for a friend or relative who lives away from where you live to be the person everyone would call in the event of a disaster. The person you designate for this task should be aware of your disaster plans.

Try to work out two escape routes for each room of your house. Every room with a door and a window has two ways out. Second floor rooms need a ladder or rope to enable window escapes if the upstairs hallway becomes dangerous.

Learn how to disconnect your utilities. Every adult and capable child should know how to shut off the electricity, gas and water. It should also be made clear that personal safety comes before the safety of the house and personal belongings.

Develop first aid and lifesaving skills. Take a first aid and CPR class. In some emergencies, you will need to be self-sufficient until professional help arrives.

Finally, don't forget to teach your children disaster preparedness.

Disaster Preparedness Resources

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