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How to Prepare Your Family for an Emergency Evacuation

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How to Prepare Your Family for an Emergency Evacuation

The age old adage, ‘it will never happen to me’ is not much use to anyone should an emergency arise be it fire, electrical storm, cyclone, tsunami or earthquake.

While these dramatic events might elicit a feeling of anxiety, the fact is, they do not discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time, often with a devastating impact.

Being prepared and having a simple plan in place works to lessen the impact and significantly speed up the recovery phase. Take time to think about potential emergencies and develop a workable plan.

In Australia there are emergency service providers like the SES that swing into action in times of disaster, but because they are in great demand and are largely manned by volunteer power, you should not just rely on them to be there for you in time of need.

There is no room for complacency, and as a general rule, individuals and communities should rally together and share the responsibility in staying safe.

When writing your plan, include contacts to provide further information about a situation.

So how do you plan for an emergency?

The answer is exactly that: you actually develop a plan. The Victorian Government’s SES Home Emergency Plan document entitled, It Pays to Plan, says a good emergency plan should comprise three parts based on before, during and after the emergency and will be based on answering the following questions.

1. What should you do to prepare before an emergency?
2. What should you do to keep safe during an emergency and minimise the effect of the situation on you and your property?
3. What do you do immediately after the emergency situation to get your life back on track as quickly as possible?

When writing your plan, include contacts to provide further information about a situation — the Bureau of Meteorology, for example.

What should you do if you have visitors staying with you or absent members of your household?

Think about listing the people and contact names and numbers you can call for help. Start with the emergency services — 000, Police, Fire and Ambulance as well as SES, local council, doctor, hospital, electrical provider and so forth. Add personal contacts, too — include family, close friends and neighbours.

When you start brainstorming your plan, think about the types of emergency situations that might affect you or your property and identify the stakeholders or persons who will be affected and therefore, part of the plan. Family members and pets will be the priority.

Two Exit Points

Card 3a

Take into consideration the exact location and layout of your home. Identify the exit points and where you will congregate in the event of a fire for example You should be able to exit your home at two points.

Think about where you will go if you happen to be away from home at the time of the emergency. What if there is a road closure or blockage?

If you have contents insurance, keep your inventory list (or if you have photo or video) with your emergency kit so you can grab it on your way out.

Insurance Coverage

Insurance coverage is another important element to invest time in when planning for emergency situations. Will your insurance cover you in the event of a fire or cyclone? If you have contents insurance, keep your inventory list (or if you have photo or video) with your emergency kit so you can grab it on your way out.

Emergency Kit

While it may sound a little dramatic, putting together an emergency kit is something you can do now and not have to worry about later should an actual emergency arise.

A plastic storage container that can be sealed with a lid is perfect. Batteries, torches, battery-operated radio, matches, candles, packing tape, scissors, first aid kit, non-perishable snack foods, bottled water or water purifying tablets and any important medicines are all necessary to include.

Don’t forget a printed copy of your emergency plan and contact list in a waterproof sleeve within the kit.

Card 3b

Emergency Actions

Fire is one of the most common emergencies affecting homeowners and families. When a fire takes hold, it is a matter of seconds between life and death. You need to be prepared and have a plan of action in place. You also need to practice prevention with working smoke alarms installed throughout the home.

Be sure to replace batteries once a month and test that they are in working order.

Be sure to replace batteries once a month and test that they are in working order. Keep gutters clear of leaves especially during the hot, dry summer months.

For easy planning in fire prevention, download NFPA’s escape planning grid.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, asking your children to draw their own version of the plan (make sure they include two fire escapes, windows, doors and fire alarms) is a great way to educate and engage them in a non-threatening way.

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Practise Your Plan

Every six months, make time to practise your plan because it is important that all members of the household know exactly what to do.

A Working Example of a Fire Escape Plan according to Fire & Rescue NSW

1. Help those in danger without delay.
2. Close doors to stop fire spreading through home.
3. Crawl along the floor or go outdoors.
4. If clothes catch alight, stop, drop to the floor, cover and roll until the flames are extinguished.
5. Go straight to designated meeting point. Do not return to the house! In short, stay low, get out and stay out.
6. Call emergency 000.

Other Points & Quick Tips

Security bars can prove impenetrable at times of emergency. They can trap you in a fire. Ensure they have a quick release system. Same goes for doors and windows.

If you have a disabled person living in your home, make extra time to consider and plan for their evacuation. Think about medication and if he needs a power source, for instance.

Never open doors hot to the touch. Use the back of your hand to determine if fire is affecting the other side or room next door. If it is hot to the touch, use an alternative escape.

Never open doors hot to the touch. Use the back of your hand to determine if fire is affecting the other side or room next door.

How Will I Know?

The SES and other agencies will warn communities of potential emergency situations. No service can guarantee a personal warning or that of a home fire.

Some situations happen very quickly and without warning.

Take responsibility and make it your business to keep abreast of what is happening. Listen to the local radio, such as the ABC, compile a list of helpful websites and keep a check on relevant social media pages. The Bureau of Meteorology is the go-to site for all weather warnings.

Don’t forget to stay in touch with friends and neighbours for support in times of emergency.

What to Do?

If you have planned for an emergency the first priority is to stay calm. Don’t ignore the warnings, instead stop, listen and take action. If unsure, ask others to explain and discuss the course of action, consult a website or information line. The SES Emergency Home Plan says it perfectly, “Follow the advice of warnings immediately. People die or are put in danger because they don’t respond right away.”

Don’t be taken by surprise, remember, as Bret Harte quotes, “Good luck happens when preparedness meets opportunity.”

The age old adage, ‘it will never happen to me’ is not much use to anyone should an emergency arise be it fire, electrical storm, cyclone, tsunami or earthquake. While these dramatic events might elicit a feeling of anxiety, the fact is, they do not discriminate and can happen to anyone at any time, often with a devastating impact.

Let the storm begins

Being prepared and having a simple plan in place works to lessen the impact and significantly speed up the recovery phase.

Take time to think about potential emergencies and develop a workable plan.

Take time to think about potential emergencies and develop a workable plan.

In Australia there are emergency service providers like the SES that swing into action in times of disaster, but because they are in great demand and are largely manned by volunteer power, you should not just rely on them to be there for you in time of need.

There is no room for complacency, and as a general rule, individuals and communities should rally together and share the responsibility in staying safe.

Keep Reading

For more tips on fire safety in the home – Home Fire Safety Tips

To learn more about home hazards – Hazards In The Home

Be sure to get a quote for Budget Direct when you are looking for the right home and contents insurance for you.

 

http://www.ses.vic.gov.au/get-ready/prepare-resources/home-emergency-plan-workbook.pdf

http://www.fire.nsw.gov.au/page.php?id=81

http://www.nfpa.org/safety-information/for-consumers/escape-planning

http://www.searchquotes.com/search/Emergency_Preparedness/