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Do 1 Thing January: Make a Plan

Categories: Do 1 Thing, General, Natural Disasters, Preparedness, Response

By Cate Shockey

This blog is part of a

series, covering a preparedness topic each month from the Do 1 Thing Program.  Join us this month as we discuss “making a plan.”series, covering a preparedness topic each month from the Do 1 Thing Program.  Join us this month as we discuss “making a plan.”

My family was curled up watching Home Alone on Christmas Eve when the lights flickered and went out.  Wondering whether or not we were the only house affected, my dad looked out the window to see what was happening while my mother thought this would be a perfect time to break out her End of the World emergency kit (don’t get me started).  When my dad retrieved said “kit,” it consisted of a lantern-style flashlight and 16 D-batteries.  Pitiful.  This was how she was planning to survive the end of the world?  After razzing her about her state of preparedness, Dad and I assembled the lantern by the light of my cell phone.

As we sat there contemplating what part of our Christmas feast we would eat first, I realized that I am not prepared for an emergency situation.  My parents?  Even less prepared.  Then I thought about Do 1 Thing. Small steps, small commitment, and solid results?  I can do this!  So for 2013, I made a commitment to follow the program, taking small steps each month to better prepare myself for an emergency…and hopefully dragging my friends, family members, and co-workers along for the ride.

In an emergency, even one as pithy as a 45 minute power outage, you are your best resource. It’s important to think ahead, think smart, and be ready.

For January, the first Do 1 Thing step is to “Make a Plan.”  When disaster strikes, having a family communication plan can help you and your loved ones know what to do and where to go.  In most emergency situations, you must react quickly and having a plan will help everyone stay calm and clear-headed.

Brianna's drawing

"When there is a fire at my house, I have to run to the swingset in the backyard and wait for Mama and Daddy." - Brianna, 6

There are many different ways that you can check this month off your list.  Think about what kinds of disasters can impact the area where you live and talk to your family about what you would do if you have to evacuate.  Are you in a hurricane zone? Are you affected by winter weather, tornadoes or extreme heat?  And don’t forget  the lesser expected, but also important,  flu outbreaks, terrorism events, and accidents.

You can also discuss your evacuation plan with your family. A friend of mine  in Kentucky sat down with her 6 year old, Brianna, to tackle the basics: where to go if there is a fire.  They talked about  different ways to get out of the house in an emergency and where to meet the rest of the family outside.  Brianna chose the swingset in the backyard as the safe spot, and drew a picture of the meeting point.

Sean and Mia explain to their little brother where to go in case of a fire.

Sean and Mia explain to their little brother where to go in case of a fire.

To solidify your evacuation plan, you can hold evacuation drills at home and practice getting out quickly.  The more practice you have, the more confident you will be in a real emergency.  This applies to everyone in your family, young and old.  Amanda, my oldest friend, talked to her kids about home emergencies and set up a practice fire drill at the house.  Sean and Mia met up at the telephone poll in their neighbor’s yard.  They also learned different ways to escape in each room of their house, and who to call in an emergency.

As part of your planning, sit down and come up with a list of resources that you would need in an emergency. List out the important phone numbers, medical information, insurance information, and utilities information relevant for your family.  Keep this list with your emergency kit so that you can find it quickly if you need it.   FEMA offers a handy printable family emergency plan to help get you started.

Here are other steps you can take this month:

My sister and brother-in-law happily show off their completed family emergency plan.

  • Test your smoke detectors and replace the batteries once a year. (This is what I tackled this month and it took 3 minutes.)
  • Learn about your community’s warnings signals – what they sound like and what to do if you hear them.
  • Make a plan for the elderly and disabled persons in your life.
  • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your family contact.  After a disaster, if is often easier to call long distance.  Make sure everyone in your family knows they should call this person to tell them where they are.
  • Teach children how to call 911.
  • Find the safe spots in your house for each type of disaster.

Take some time and make a plan this month.  Are YOU ready?

Download the Make a Plan factsheet here and visit CDC’s preparedness website for more information on making a plan.

Public Comments

Comments listed below are posted by individuals not associated with CDC, unless otherwise stated. These comments do not represent the official views of CDC, and CDC does not guarantee that any information posted by individuals on this blog is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. Read more about our comment policy ».

  1. January 16, 2013 at 11:57 am ET  -   Lynn @ CDC

    Enjoyed the blog post! This is excellent. Nice to see how you got your kids involved. And for your sister and brother-in-law to have a formal typewritten plan…you are really leading the way in your family! Way to go! Now all the rest of us need to get on the ball and do this if we/you haven’t already!

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