Is your household ready for the next “Irene”? You may not live in “hurricane country” (and who would have thought they did in Vermont), but winter blizzards, wildfires, and floods can all cause as much or more destruction. Consider tornadoes and earthquakes (found recently in diverse places), and the incredible heartache, loss of property and life that these disasters can cause. Add the threat of terrorism, EMPs, pandemic, and other events which cannot be predicted, and ask yourself “Would you be ready?”
September is National Preparedness Month in the USA, and no better time to help our families understand the goal of becoming the most self-reliant and prepared people – ready for any challenge. Now is the time to check your preparation, and find out just how ready you really are. Or, if you are still cleaning up from disaster in your East Coast home, consider restocking your readiness supplies in the process. In no case assume that because you’ve experienced or perhaps dodged recent disaster, that it can’t happen again in some other form.
Tomorrow is September 1st, so take some time tonight to explain to your family that you are going to learn from the lessons of Hurricane Irene – you are going to get more serious about your preparations beginning tomorrow. Explain that your intention is to spend the month of September preparing to be more self-reliant in case of an emergency. Explain this may involve purchasing some items. It may mean some sacrifices will have to be made. Get a coin bank and tell everyone if they would like to help, that you will be placing your spare change in the bank every night, and they can do the same. Tell them any family member contributing will get to help decide what to purchase. This will help your children feel included and empowered and also help teach them a little about money management.
Thursday September 1st
It’s shoe day! Place a sturdy pair of shoes under each bed in your home. These should be shoes that are not normally worn so they remain in place for an emergency. An earthquake or tornado means broken glass – you need to have shoes in the middle of the night. If you have young children place the shoes where they can be easily found by an older family member in the dark. Take a pair of good walking shoes to work. If an emergency arises at work and you are unable to drive home you may be on foot and will need good shoes. You will also want an extra pair in the car in case you are caught away from home and away from the office. Extra shoes are also important in case of a roadside emergency should your shoes get wet while changing a tire or awaiting rescue.
Friday September 2nd
Post emergency phone numbers next to each phone. Remember not only the police and fire departments, hospital, doctors, and poison control – but also the schools, out of state contact, friends, family, and your own phone numbers. A babysitter may need to call your cell phone, or a child may forget phone numbers during an emergency. Be sure to include your street address on this list. If a friend or babysitter has to call for help from your home they will need to be able to tell rescuers the address. In case of an emergency you may even forget your own phone number and address – it is not at all unusual.
Saturday September 3rd
- Evaluate your preparation to care for your pets.
- Assemble emergency kits (remember 72 hours is not enough) for your pets. These should include water, food, medications, up-to-date vaccination and other medical records, collar, toys, food and water dishes, and sanitation disposal bags.
- Be sure you have someone who will care for your pets, outside of your immediate neighborhood, if you need to leave your home.
- Make a list of foods and medications you need for a 1 month supply for each pet.
- Make a list of items you need to gather or purchase.
Sunday September 4th
Read as a family one or more of the suggested articles at the bottom of this article and discuss what you have learned.
Monday September 5th
For Family Home Evening Play “What If”:
What if you were not at home when_____________________ happened? (Fill in the blank with the emergency most likely to occur in your area). Ask each family member, including the adults what they would do.
- What if you were at a friend’s home?
- What if you were at work?
- What if you were at school?
- What if you were shopping?
- What if you were home but mom and dad weren’t?
This will give you the opportunity to make sure everyone in your family knows who to call, or—in the case of adults and teens – where your meeting place will be.
Fill out emergency cards for each family member to keep in their wallet and/or school back pack. These should include home phone number, cell phones, home address, nearby friend or relative, and an out of state contact. Remember everyone should have the same out of state contact and phone them immediately after a disaster strikes. That person can then relay messages to the rest of the family as they check in.
Tuesday September 6th
Gather or purchase the items on your pet needs list and place them in a pet emergency kit.
Wednesday September 7th
Add $10.00 to your coin bank for spending on emergency needs.
Thursday September 8th
Call your children’s school(s) and daycare and ask about their emergency procedures. Review these with your spouse and children. If they do not have a plan, volunteer to help develop one.
Friday September 9th
Place an extra set of important keys in adult emergency kits, safe deposit box, at work, next to your bed, and with a neighbor. Keys should include cars, homes, homes of those you have promised to help evacuate, offices, recreational vehicles, mail boxes, safe deposit boxes, and storage sheds.
Saturday September 10th
- If you live in hurricane country: Take necessary measurements and purchase supplies needed to board up windows. Don’t forget screws and bolts. Take supplies home and pre-drill holes to make installation fast.
- If you live in earthquake or tornado areas purchase items to strap your water heater and to secure large furniture items such as dressers and sideboards to walls, and then do it.
- If you live in a flood area: Purchase and place survival items in your attic.
- If you live in areas prone to fire, prune trees and bushes and remove any dead branches. Check roof and gutters for opening which embers can enter and patch those areas.
Sunday September 11th
Make a list of handicapped or elderly neighbors, friends, ward members, and family members who may need help in an emergency, post their phone numbers and enter them into your cell phone contact list. During an emergency, even a power outage it is important to check on those who may not be able to take care of their own needs. If they do not have emergency kit you may want to create one for them or add enough to your kits so you are able to care for their needs also. create one.
Monday September 12th
Teach all family members when it is appropriate to call 911 and practice various scenarios until they feel comfortable with the questions they will be asked.
See Meridian article Call 911
Tuesday September 13th
At dinner tonight, discuss the family’s favorite meals. Take notes to determine breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack favorites. Gather recipes for each food item.
Wednesday September 14th
Using the recipes you gathered yesterday make a list of ingredients you will need to make five dinners, five lunches, five breakfasts and five snacks from the list. Using the money from your spare change jar, purchase the ingredients for five dinners. Store these separately from the food in your pantry. This is food storage. Once you have built up a three month supply, you can begin using this food and rotating it. For help with food storage see the Totally Ready blog , “General Store” section.
Thursday September 15th
Replace batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Friday September 16th
Place flashlights and/or glow sticks by every bed for use in a nighttime emergency. We have plenty of candles, flashlights and glow sticks in our home, but after fumbling in the dark to find them during a power outage I decided then we would keep glow sticks in every room in our home and I hung one on every door knob. Sure enough, next outage I knew exactly where to find light. Several people told me during Hurricane Irene this past week that they were ready with glow sticks on all the door knobs. Make sure your children know these are for emergencies only. They will run for them when the power goes out!
Saturday September 17th
This is “live like a pioneer day!” Flip the power off at the breaker and live today without power. There is no better way to discover what your preparations are lacking than to try them out. Do all your cooking on the barbeque, in a fire pit, or with a Dutch oven. Use your flashlights, glow sticks, candles and outdoor solar lights for lighting. Read books, do normal Saturday chores, play games, go for a bike ride and just enjoy your family without the distraction of electricity.
Sunday September 18th
Read one or more of the suggested readings as a family and discuss what you have learned.
Monday September 19th
Meet with another family tonight for Family Home Evening and take turns taking photos of the other’s family. Take photos of individual family members and a group photo which includes all family members. Remember, pets are family members too. You want an individual photo and group photo with them also. These will help if you are separated by a disaster event, and need to post a photo or claim a family member. Your group photo will help to prove you are the parent, sibling, or child, of a “misplaced” family member. Individual photos can be used to give to first responders or to post on message boards if you have been separated.
Tuesday September 20th
Make enough copies of the photos you took yesterday to include in the Emergency Kits of all family members, a copy for your out of state contact, and two more complete sets (you’ll see why in a moment).
Wednesday September 21st
Mail one set of copies to your out of area contact, place a set in all emergency kits, take one set to work and place the final set in your auto kit.
Thursday September 22nd
Using the money in your spare change jar, purchase the ingredients for five lunches and five snacks you planned previously. If you are on a tight budget make this a priority and eat breakfast for dinner for several days. Pancakes, eggs, French toast are all great dinner foods and all inexpensive and budget savers.
Friday September 23rd
Practice building a shelter. Get out the Scout Handbook or look for directions online. Create a shelter using supplies you have in your emergency and/or car kits, such as mylar blankets, duct tape, bungee cords and tarps. After a disaster it may not be possible to inhabit your home, but you may not want to leave your property and you may end up “camping out”. If you should become stranded on a trip you will need to know how to build a shelter. If you don’t have these items, now is the time to purchase them and practice how to use them for shelter. No supplies? Time to purchase some!
Saturday September 24th
Have each family member clean their room and then get out your video or still camera and take pictures. Open every door and drawer and shoot away. This inventory will be worth its weigh in gold if you should have to make an insurance claim after a disaster.
Sunday September 25th
Mom and dad read the article: “Ready to Go!” Friend, Jul 2007, 8–11; plan a similar exercise in a week or two as a review of your Family Home Evening tomorrow night.
Monday September 26th
For Family Home Evening, create a list of items to take if you need to evacuate. Make assignments for each family member to grab an item or two so everything is collected and ready to put into the car when the time comes.
Tuesday September 27th
Make a copy of your evacuation list and place it on a cupboard door or in some other easily accessible location so when you need to evacuate you can grab it quickly and each family member can complete their tasks.
Wednesday September 28th
Finish your household inventory and record images of the other rooms in your home. Compile all photos and/or video and place a copy in your adult emergency kits and send a copy to your out of area contact for safe keeping.
Thursday September 29th
At breakfast ask for any last contributions to the emergency fund. Count your money and decide what items are most important to purchase with this money. Remember you promised anyone contributing could help decide. If they should decide on brownie mix… that’s important too. Now go spend the money. Come home and place everything on the table where you can all enjoy what you have accomplished. Why not keep the fund going and do the same thing next month?
Friday September 30th
Read: “If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear” Ensign, Nov 1995, by Elder L. Tom Perry. As a family, discuss what you need to do next to continue preparing as prophets have counseled.
Take time today to find a binder and plastic sheet protectors and begin a family preparedness resource manual. Add copies of the articles and talks referenced, your inventory, evacuation plan, and any other information you have gathered to your binder.
Being prepared is an attitude and lifestyle, which like any good habit becomes part of who we are and the way we choose to live. Children will want to be part of something they see as exciting and valuable such as being ready for unforeseen emergencies like weather events and civil emergencies. With the recent weather disasters, now is the time to calm your family’s fears by teaching them how to prepare and find the reassurance that no matter what challenge they face, all will be well.
“Family Home Storage: A New Message” Ensign March 2009.
“The Flood after the Storm,” Ensign, Feb 1997.
“Members in Coalinga Respond to Earthquake,” Ensign, July 1983, 77–78.
“In Case of Disaster,” New Era, Oct 1990, 24–31.
“The Celestial Nature of Self Reliance,” Marion G. Romney October 1982 General Conference.
“The Responsibility for Welfare Rests with Me and My Family,” Ensign, May 1986, by Elder James E. Faust.
During the days before, during and after Hurricane Irene Carolyn has posted tips for preparing and for clean up on her blog and her facebook page. Be sure to check both when a disaster threatens and after. Cleaning up from Irene check out her tips today! Take a minute now to “like” her facebook page. Need a question answered? Contact Carolyn at [email protected]