I’m ashamed to admit that we’ve never discussed disaster preparedness or emergency plans with Darius. I’m not sure if it is because, when he was little, it was OUR job to make sure he stayed safe if there was an earthquake or fire. I’m also sure that we’ve gotten lazy and complacent. Where we live in Northern California, there hasn’t been a big disaster since the ’89 Quake. Yes, there’ve been fires – but not where we live. There’s been mudslides – but not where we live. The closest thing we’ve had to a disaster is losing our fence in a fierce storm two years ago and having a few hours without power every year during the first storm.
On Monday, I went to CityMama’s adorable apartment to hear from California Volunteers about Disaster Preparedness. I was only a little ashamed that I haven’t done anything to be prepared. It was a morning that was more informative and thought-provoking than I ever realized disaster preparedness could be. And I learned that you don’t have to be a freakishly perfect to get it all done either. Simple things like:
Create a Family Disaster Plan. Make sure it includes two meeting places, an out-of-state contact, and storing copies of important documents outside of your home (like in a safe deposit box). CalVolunteer’s website will also make a free downloadable customizable book for your kids. How cool is that?
Put shoe box under everyone’s bed with a pair of shoes, flashlight, and sweater. If there's an emergency in the middle of the night, everyone can get out of the house safely.
Practice with your kids how to escape from their bedroom if there was a fire. When we practiced, I saw for myself that D struggled to get the latch open. We had to practice over and over so that Darius was comfortable. When seconds count, you don’t want your kids panicking that they don’t know what to do.
Know where your gas shut-off is and how to turn it off. One thing we learned is that people often turn off gas after a disaster even when it isn't necessary. If you smell gas or hear a leak in your home, turn off the gas. Otherwise, it’s OK to leave it on.
Properly secure your water heater. One, you don’t want hot water pouring everywhere. Two, it hooks up to your gas, so you don’t want a leak if it fell. But most important, the water in your water heater can be your best source of water if you can’t drink your tap water. For us, that’s 40 gallons of water!
My biggest take-away came from the firefighter who was there to show us what we can do to keep our families safe. Erica said that in a large disaster (think Katrina, think the ’89 Quake, etc), that her #1 goal was to be able to stay at home and not have to go to a shelter. Of course, staying in your home isn’t always an option. But if you can stay home, would you want to? You must make sure that your home is supplied to allow for it. Going through the Disaster Supplies Checklist, I realized that we have a lot of this stuff already in our home but we’ve never organized it into one place.
And if you still feel like you'll never earn your Merit Badge for Disaster Preparedness, then how about a Disaster Kit for FREE?!? CalVolunteers is letting me giveaway TWELVE disaster kits to my lucky readers. Simply comment on this post before Monday, November 23rd with what change your family is going to make to be more prepared for a disaster. Winners will be chosen at random.
Photo credit: California Volunteers
Disclosure: I received a free lunch and two disaster kits during my morning at CityMama's house. I was not obligated to write a piece. The opinions expressed above are mine and mine alone.
UPDATED: Congrats to Holly, April, Amy O., Nicole, Linsey, Elise, Carla, Stimey, GNSD, Christine, Raggedy Anarchy, and Tanya for winning the Disaster Kits. You'll be receiving an email from whosthebossblog AT gmail DOT com with instructions on how to claim your prize.