How to Make an Emergency Response Plan for Your Family

There’s an interesting saying that goes: “Preparedness is the calm before, during, and after the storm.” Indeed, it’s good to get started on the idea of preparedness, knowing how unpredictable life can be. Emergencies can take all manner of shape or size, ranging from individual episodes of illness to wide-scale natural disasters. The most common ones in Australia—such as bushfires, storms, and flash floods—often occur with little to no notice beforehand.

It’s never too early to teach your young children about the worst-case scenario. Neither is it an inconvenient time to brush up on knowledge you’ve acquired in the past, such as how to do basic first aid or how to conduct an earthquake drill. One of the tools that will be of great help in jumpstarting your household’s overall preparedness for emergencies is your own Emergency Response Plan. Queensland Government’s guidelines on preparing an Emergency Response Plan serve as an excellent primer, and they highlight a set of 3 principles that should be upheld by your family:

  • Know – in that your household members should know the mechanics of the Emergency Response Plan, and where inside your house to find all relevant materials;
  • Involve – in that all of your household members should be involved in the plans and are prepared to do their part;
  • Practice – in that each member should practice what to do and where to go, so that everyone’s movements are nimble and confident when the time comes.

We’re also compiling our own tips for you below. Here are 4 additional points of action to supplement your household’s own Emergency Response Plan.

  1. Stock up on knowledge and skills that will be of good use during emergencies. Some of the physical and mental skills that could prove vital in the case of emergency are: knowing how to apply first aid, knowing how to swim, and knowing how to defend oneself. You could allot some of your family’s time and resources toward acquiring first aid certification from a first aid training provider in Brisbane,local swim classes, or other related endeavours.

    These are just some ways to keep your bodies fit and your minds sharp under the pressure of an emergency. Your Emergency Response Plan is best implemented by household members who are both physically and emotionally prepared.

  2. Keep all channels open. Put together a comprehensive list of people who can convey knowledge, and/or offer assistance, in a dangerous situation. Your list of contacts might include the following:
  • At least 2 family members who are not part of the household (such as sets of grandparents or aunts/uncles/cousins);
  • Your/your spouse’s workplace;
  • The number of the school/s your children go to;
  • Your local council;
  • Medical services;
  • Service providers for electricity, water, telecommunications, and others;
  • Your local radio station;
  • The weather bureau;
  • Veterinary services (if your family owns pets), and;
  • Insurance providers.

Keep this list updated and within everyone’s line of vision. You can tack up hard copies to your refrigerator, bulletin board, and on the doors of your bedrooms.

  1. Lay out emergency scenarios with your family. Take an opportunity to sit down and to be candid with your family about the different situations that could unfold. Walk them through where each family member is likely to be (i.e. in school or in the office), which persons would act as the first line of communication (i.e. neighbours or relatives), and how you will keep in contact with each other (i.e. cellular phone or landline). This part of your Emergency Response Plan can take the form of a flowchart; you, your spouse, and your children could all take turns drawing and explaining.     
  2. Assemble a medicine kit, emergency food and water supplies, and emergency power supplies. Ideally, your medicine kit and your stock of food and water supplies should take you through a minimum of 72 hours in duress. Your medicine kit should contain all the medicines and medical implements needed for first aid, such as the following:
  • Plasters;
  • Ointments;
  • Safety pins;
  • Scissors;
  • Tweezers;
  • Thermometer;
  • Painkillers;
  • Cough medicine, and,

The medicine kit should also contain emergency dosages of medication for those in your household suffering from a chronic illness.

On the other hand, your supply of consumables should include non-perishable, easy-to-eat foods such as biscuits, dried fruit, canned meat, powdered milk, and of course clean filtered water. Complete the assembly with flash lights, batteries, whistles, and basic hand tools. A good practice is to label everything with instructions for use, and with their respective expiry dates. Replenish each of these kits as needed every few months.

All in all, these four tips should be of good use in compiling a unique, well-crafted Emergency Response Plan for your household. Here’s to the good health and safety of your family!

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