Posted in Teachable Moment Tuesday

Volcanoes, Earthquakes and the Anniversary of Oklahoma City – Ways to Keep your Family Safe During an Emergency

With the recent volcano eruptions in Iceland and stories of families stranded in airports, I began to think again about emergency preparation. Being in and around New York over the last decade has been amazing and unfortunately at some points terrifying.  Following September 11th, my company gave us all Go Bags in case of another attack/disaster.  It is important to be prepared, to have a plan and to share it.  As parents of toddlers responsibility grows to encompass your children and their safety.

I have learned that life can change forever…in just an instant.  I have learned how important it is to be prepared.  I am writing this post to share what I learned with parents in the hopes of helping in the preparation and perhaps avoidance of an accident or disaster.  Build your families plan here.

What can you do to prepare yourself and your family?

This is a list I created with some safety suggestions.  This is by no means all encompassing however these are a few items to start to prepare yourself and your family.

1.)    Have a plan, communicate it and practice it.

2.)    Have a ‘Go Bag’

3.)    Have a list of emergency numbers visible in your home

4.)    Have an ICE (In Case of Emergency) listed in your mobile phone book

5.)    Talk to local police or firemen to hear suggestions for making your home safer

6.)    Have fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in your home

7.)    Try to keep a charge on your mobile phone or carry an extra battery with a charge.

8.)    Have cash on hand and small bills in your home.

9.)    Have comfortable shoes (at home, at work, in the car)

Have a plan, communicate it and practice it:  During Sept 11th, I’m not sure I consciously thought about where I was walking, I just walked.  I went right to the stairwell and started walking down.  Our building had countless fire drills before that day.  It sunk in.  Practicing an emergency exit and communicating a meeting point is very important. 

According to ReadyNYC:  “Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to plan in advance: how you will contact one another; how you will get back together; and what you will do in different situations. Contact your household members’ workplaces, organizations, and schools for information on their emergency plans.

Start with a well-conceived plan:

  • Discuss with your household the types of emergencies that could occur in your area and what to do in each case.
  • Learn Work, School, and Community Plans
  • Establish responsibilities for each household member so you can work as a team.
  • Pick two places to meet: one near your home in case of a local emergency, like a fire, and the second outside your neighborhood in case of larger-scale emergencies.
  • Maintain an up-to-date emergency contact card with addresses and phone numbers.
  • Choose an out-of-area friend or relative as a contact for everyone to call. It’s often easier to call out-of-area during a large-scale emergency.
  • Include your pets in an evacuation plan. Have items for your pet in your disaster supplies kit and “Go Bag.”
  • Teach adult household members when and how to turn off electricity, water and gas.
  • Tell household members where emergency information and supplies are kept.
  • Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Take your planned evacuation route, and then map out alternative routes in case main roads are impassible.
  • Include your neighbors in your emergency plan”


Have a ‘go bag’.  According to the site ReadyNYC, families should have a ‘go bag.’

“Every household should pack a Go Bag – a collection of items you may need in the event of an evacuation. A Go Bag should be packed in a sturdy, easy-to-carry container such as a backpack or suitcase on wheels. A Go Bag should be easily accessible if you have to leave your home in a hurry. Make sure it is ready to go at all times of the year.

  • Copies of your important documents in a waterproof and portable container (insurance cards, photo IDs, proof of address, etc.)
  • Extra set of car and house keys
  • Credit and ATM cards and cash, especially in small denominations
  • Bottled water and non-perishable food such as energy or granola bars
  • Flashlight (LED flashlights are more durable and last up to 10 times longer than traditional bulbs)
  • Battery-operated AM/FM radio and extra batteries
  • Keep a list of the medications each member of your household takes, why they take them, and their dosages. Medication information and other essential personal items. If you store extra medication in your Go Bag, be sure to refill it before it expires
  • First-aid kit
  • Contact and meeting place information for your household, and a small regional map
  • Child care supplies or other special care items “


Have a list of emergency number’s in your home:  The list can have your work and mobile numbers, emergency contacts, Doctor’s, Hospitals, Poison Control and more.

Have an ICE – List ICE in your mobile phone address book.  It stands for In Case of Emergency.  List your emergency contact.

Talk to local law enforcement and firemen:  There is nothing more exciting to a child than to see a fire truck, police car or speak to law enforcement.  They may be willing to share some tips and tricks for your home and family.

Have fire detectors and carbon monoxide detectors:  This speaks for itself.  Make sure the batteries are charged.

Keep your cell phone charged or a spare battery (fully charged.)  In this day of mobile phones, it is so helpful to be able to let family members or officials know where you are and how you are doing or if you need help!  A full charge in an emergency is indispensible. 

Have cash on hand.  In an emergency, there may not be time to get to a bank or atm.

Have comfortable shoes at home, at work, and in the car.  You never know when you may need to walk or run rather than ride.  It is best to have comfortable, sturdy shoes handy.

My intention in writing this post isn’t to sound like a doomsayer however it is to make sure we are all as prepared as we can be for what hopefully will never happen.  Little tasks and plans now can make all the difference if they are ever needed.  ReadyNYC has some great tips for families and alerts for New Yorkers.  Check your local government agencies and schools to see if they have similar services.

One thought on “Volcanoes, Earthquakes and the Anniversary of Oklahoma City – Ways to Keep your Family Safe During an Emergency

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