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Saftey: Preparing for the Worst!

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03/01/2009 - This is not a "gloom and doom" article. Rather, it offers tips for expecting, planning for, and getting through emergencies while protecting yourself and your family.

First, create a simple plan. Professionals use an all-hazards approach to emergency planning and response. You will need to know how to respond to three types of emergencies – medical (injury or illness), weather (taking shelter), and evacuation (getting out of your house).

If a medical emergency occurs, call 9-1-1. Don't ever hang up; stay on the phone with the dispatcher. Most likely, the dispatcher will remain on the line with you to help you through the event while waiting for help. Show younger children how to dial the phone and explain to them in a calm way how and when they should call the emergency number. Use the cell phone as a last resort as most dispatchers can determine your address by the caller ID with your phone number.

Whether day or night, turn on the outside light to your house and advise the dispatcher that it is on. This helps the emergency crews locate your home quicker when looking for the address. If you have pets, place them outside in the back yard or in a room where you can close them in behind a door. This will ease the tension of the responders as well as protect your pets.

Dangerous weather requires making a decision. Can we stay in a safe place in the house (basement, crawl space, inner room away from windows) or do we need to go (or have time to go) to a community shelter?

Create a space in your garage, basement, or closet to keep a home emergency box or kit. Call your local American Red Cross chapter for help with kit contents. But be sure to include, batteries, flashlights, candles, matches, a battery-operated radio, a couple blankets, some canned goods that don't require cooking, a can opener, and bottled water, to name just a few items.

Create a checklist so you don't forget things like baby formula and diapers, medications, a spare pair of glasses, relative's phone numbers, perhaps a change of clothing.

If you need to evacuate your home due to fire or other emergency, identify a place outside of the house where everyone should gather. Establish a fire escape route and review with your loved ones (seniors and children) what they should do. Run a practice drill and make it fun for your kids so they don't panic. That way they'll know what to do and where to go in a real situation.

Don't forget to plan for your pets. They usually can't go to a shelter with you so pre-planning for them rather than leaving them to fend for themselves is important.

There is never a bad time to plan for an emergency. Children, senior adults, to everyone in between must know what to do before an emergency occurs. Planning now helps you cope with the incident and keep your family safe.

Randy DeVaul is an internationally published writer and author with more than 25 years in safety and emergency response services. He is the creator of 'Safe At Home' (www.safeathomeonline.com). Comments always welcome at safetypro@roadrunner.com.

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