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In my last blog, I talked about the importance of having a business crisis plan. Today, I'd like to share some thoughts on the importance of preparing ourselves and our families for emergencies that range from natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards, to toxic spills, fires, and nuclear accidents.
One thing that many of these disasters have in common is that they often happen without much warning. That's why it's so important to prepare for the unexpected. Given the range of possibilities, and the uncertainty about when - and even if - any of them might strike, some people have adoped a "what's the use" attitude. But after watching TV accounts of recent floods and tornadoes in the South and Midwest, I've come to the conclusion that every household should at the very least put together an emergency supply kit and develop a family communications plan.
What should go in a kit? For starters, it should include non-perishable food, bottled water, a first-aid kit, a battery-powered radio, flashlights, batteries, some extra cash, essential medications, and a list of telephone numbers. Other items might include copies of importnat documents such as drivers' licenses, Social Security cards, bank account and credit card names and numbers, wills, deeds, birth and marriage certificates - and, of course, insurance policies. In addition to these policies, it's a good idea to have a complete inventory - with pictures, even a video - of your possessions. You should keep the originals of these documents in a safe deposit box and another copy at an out-of-town location such as the home of a friend or relative.
Chances are that your family won't all be in the same place if a disaster should strike. So you'll need a family emergency communication plan. Make sure everyone's cell phones are programmed with the numbers of other family members. Choose an out-of-town number to call in case local lines are affected. And select at least two places - one near your home and another outside your neighborhood - where you would meet during or after the emergency.
Obviously, this is not a complete list. But if it's encouraging you to think - or better still, to plan - then it's done its job. You can find more information at Ready America (www.ready.gov), FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (www.fema.gov), or the American Red Cross (www.redcross.org).
Have you already created a household disaster plan? I hope you'll tell us about it.