Disaster prep should include family plan

Hurricane season is a reminder that every family should have a family disaster plan, said Becky White, LSU AgCenter child and family development specialist.

A disaster plan can help save the lives of your family in the event of an emergency such as a hurricane or flood, White said. It also can help children cope with fears and worries they might have about safety or getting separated during the disaster.

“To create a family disaster plan you need information about disasters that may occur in your area,” she said.

You can do this by contacting your local emergency management office or going to the Federal Emergency Management Agency website at www.fema.gov. Then hold a family meeting and develop your plan.

“In the event of a disaster, everyone in your family should know what to do, where to go and who to call,” said White.

She suggests establishing two family meeting places in the event of a disaster. One should be a designated place outside your house. The other meeting place should be somewhere outside your neighborhood in case you are away from home or must leave your home when a disaster happens.

“If you must evacuate, identify your evacuation routes and places where your family can go,” White said. “Also, select an out-of-state relative or family friend as a point of contact for your family in case you get separated. Make sure each family member knows two ways to contact that person — phone numbers and address.”

As you develop your plan, be sure to think about family members who may have special needs, White said.

“Someone may need a cane for walking or a wheelchair,” she said. “For others, eyeglasses may be essential. In some cases special medical equipment or medicines are important to remember in planning.”

Some municipalities keep a list of patients with special medical equipment. This helps them to know which electrical circuits need priority. Contact your municipality to see if such a list exists in your area.

If you have pets, plan for their safety as well. Remember, if you have to evacuate to a public shelter, you may not be able to bring your pets.

“Family members may not always be together when disaster strikes, but families can get back together if they have a plan and it is followed,” White said.

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