Emergency preparedness at the family level

We’ve all seen or heard about the government and various non-government organizations’ campaigns on disaster preparedness. We’ve also had a few emergency drills both at the metro level and in our respective companies. Our children have likewise been trained by their schools on what to do when a disaster such as an earthquake, typhoon, fire, or a terrorist attack occurs. But what about within your own family? How prepared do you think each member is?

I must admit I’m not an expert here. In fact, it was just my eldest child’s recent school project that made me realize that perhaps we’re not as ready as I thought. So to help you (and myself as I strive for our family to be more prepared), allow me to share some of the things I learned.

Disaster preparedness is not synonymous with a “survival kit”. Yes, having a emergency bag complete with the supplies you need is a good first step, but there are many other things you need to do and consider. To start with, the grab bag should be for each member of the family. While there are common items for all (such as food, water, and clothes), each bag must also be filled with things that will address unique needs. For instance, if your child requires certain medicines, then you have to make sure his or her bag has a pack or two of those inside. And for ladies, feminine hygiene is important so don’t forget to throw in your sanitary pads. (For more information on what to include in your survival kit, please visit CNN Philippines – What to Pack in a Survival Kit.)

The size, material and location of the emergency bags are also something you need to think about. Of course, your children’s bags will be smaller and lighter, but should still contain their most essential needs. They should be able to easily locate and get the bags, too, so choose a strategic spot in your house for this purpose. On top of individual grab bags, you may opt to place one big emergency box and some cash in your house and car. As the saying goes, it’s better to be paranoid than sorry. 🙂

Your family must have a disaster plan and everyone should be on the same page. Sit down as a family and develop a plan. Be sure to involve your children so they’ll know it is a serious matter. Let them identify what areas inside and outside your house are considered safe and tell them they have to go there to avoid getting hurt. Also, agree on a place that’s known to all which can serve as your meetup point in case your house gets damaged or compromised. It can probably be a shop in your favorite mall or a restaurant nearby. To help them remember and get to the place when needed, draw a map and give them directions. Lastly, don’t forget to conduct your emergency drills as a family just to ensure that everyone understands his or her role during this crucial time.

Your children’s guardians should be on board as well. Since our yayas and drivers are the ones who watch over our kids for the most part of the day while they’re in school and we’re at work, it is imperative to train them on how to properly respond to emergency situations. Make sure they know your family’s meeting place, as well as how and where to reach you. Familiarize them, too, with the content of the emergency box. Have them take advantage of the free training sessions provided by your child’s school or your local community on disaster preparedness, first aid, and similar topics.

Cooperate with the school’s emergency preparedness efforts. I’m quite lucky that my children’s schools have instituted certain protocols that will be activated during an emergency. My job now as a parent is to make sure that I am aware of and follow these protocols. For example, know what gate your child’s grade level should be picked up after an earthquake, and assure him / her that you will be there to fetch him / her. Also, make it a point to update your contact information in the school registry so the teachers can easily get in touch with you. Better, too, to subscribe to the text blast service and follow the social media accounts of the school to receive updates. And if your kids are required to have their own emergency bags in school, be sure to comply and replenish the items, as needed.

True, it can become stressful to think of these things, not to mention, expensive to put everything in place, but it is something that deserves our attention. We should do the preparations soonest. In fact, we all should have done these yesterday!

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