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  • Paolo Piscatelli

How To Create A Family Safety Plan

The family safety plan is a cornerstone of emergency preparedness. Knowing what to do, where to go, and how to respond when tragedy strikes can save lives. Having a plan for when family members get separated during an outing, what to do if severe weather strikes, and how you’ll get help if you need it can ensure you and your family stay safe in the event of an emergency. Situations – and life in general – rarely go as planned.

One thing COVID-19 has certainly taught us is that when danger comes knocking, you better be prepared to answer. The pandemic seemed to come out of nowhere and turn the world on its head. The pandemic panic led many people into a shopping frenzy, clearing out shelves at grocery stores overnight. Shortages for essential items like toilet paper were a stark reminder of how important it is to have essential supplies, and a plan on hand at all times.

Below are simple steps to creating your family safety plan and a powerful tool you can easily add to your emergency readiness toolkit:

Stay Safe at Home

The first step to keeping your family safe is starting the conversation. Together you should create an emergency checklist and action plan for various scenarios. Discuss what everyone should do if grandpa has a heart attack, or the house suddenly goes up in flames. It may sound scary to discuss, but knowing what steps you and your loved ones should take can avoid panic and keep everyone safe. It’s important to create your plan and build your toolkit long before trouble arrives. A checklist, plan, and supplies are all essential to preparing your family for unexpected crises.

Plan Ahead for Outings

It never hurts to reassess how you plan for life's activities.

How you prepare should be based on where you’re going and who will be going with you. Think about the environment you’ll be in and what precautions you can take to ensure you’ll have everything you need and know where (and how) to get help if you need it.

A good example is a family trip to the beach. You’ve probably already thought about avoiding dehydration and sunburns by bringing plenty of water and sunscreen. But, do you have a plan in case you do get split up? Ideally, everyone should stay together or at least have a partner when the group splits up, but it’s crucial to prepare for when things don’t go according to plan. If for some reason your little one gets separated and can’t find their way back to you, discussing what to do beforehand can help avoid the worst-case scenario.

Using the beach example, here are a few things you can do to make sure your child is prepared:

  • Bring a distinctly colored or designed umbrella (you can also bring a flag) and make sure they’re familiar with what it looks like. You can ask them to describe it to you to ensure they know what to look for if they get lost.

  • Position yourself close to a landmark when you pick a spot on the beach. Ideal places to set up shop include near lifeguard towers, signposts, or other groups of people with umbrellas or flags that stand out. Helping your child familiarize themselves with their surroundings will make it easier for them to find you if you get separated.

  • Most public beaches have designated lifeguards that keep watch over beachgoers. Let your little one know that if they get lost and can’t seem to find you, they can get help from a lifeguard at one of the towers. Since your child knows which umbrella and landmark to look for, they can inform the lifeguard who can help them in their search.

You can apply these same principles to other activities as well. For example, if you’re at a theme park with your family, you can come up with designated meeting times and locations for the group whenever you split up.

Be Aware of Your Surroundings

When you’re out and about, it’s easy to get preoccupied, but it’s always good to maintain a sense of situational awareness. The more aware you are of your surroundings, the more likely you are to notice when something’s off or if it’s time to leave the situation entirely. Getting to know the area you’re in can also help you identify the fastest way out if you need to make a quick exit. One common barrier to situational awareness is our mobile devices. As vital as they are in today’s society, the world around you disappears when you use them.

How Your Cell Phone Can Help

Although our mobile devices can be a distraction, they can also be a big help in an emergency. Simply being able to call or text your family members is an incredible tool for getting help or reconnecting if you get separating. As a rule of thumb, have your cell phone on you at all times when you’re outside of the home. If you can, check to make sure you’ll have a working network connection wherever you’re going, and bring a portable charger with you if you won’t have access to a plug-in charger.

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