ORLANDO, Fla. -- Imagine a hurricane has taken a sudden turn and is heading straight for your town. The forecasters and meteorologists had all said the dangerous storm would hit in another location several hundred miles away. But now, it is headed straight for you and your family. Fortunately, you have done everything you knew to do in preparation for an event of this nature. You have implemented mitigation techniques by reinforcing your home to survive hurricane-force winds. You purchased flood insurance to protect against water damage. You even put together a disaster safety kit with enough food and water for your family to survive for at least three days.
But wait! What about your daughter who is attending her first day of junior high school? What about your son, who is on a field trip with his science club? What if you cannot get in touch with them before the storm hits? How will you find everyone after the storm? The phone lines could be down for days. There could be no electricity. There are numerous obstacles still remaining that you are not prepared to deal with. You should have created a family disaster plan.
According to officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Florida 's State Emergency Response Team (SERT), a key component in disaster preparedness is the establishment of a family disaster plan.
"FEMA is working closely with state and local officials in preparation for the 2006 hurricane season in Florida . We urge residents to make sure they, personally, are prepared as well," said Director Scott R. Morris, Florida Long Term Recovery."In addition to putting together a disaster supply kit, having a good plan in place means knowing evacuation routes, having a communication plan and planning for family members with special needs."
Communication is vital before, during, and after a hurricane. With the new storm season starting soon, now is the time to make certain your family will not be separated in the aftermath of a disaster.
"Hurricanes are a natural fact of life that all Floridians need to be prepared for," said Craig Fugate, Director of Florida Division of Emergency Management."Now is the time to discuss and update your family disaster plan before June 1. It is really very simple; everyone needs to have a plan."
Steps to take in creating a"Family Plan" for the upcoming hurricane season:
- Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home's vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.
- Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hurricane hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your own home but another within your community.
- Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.
- Choose a meeting location. Should your family become separated during a storm, you should have a pre-determined rendezvous point at which everyone can rejoin the family.
- Complete a family communication plan. Include contact information for family members, work and school, meeting locations and emergency services.
- Choose an"out of town" contact who family members can call to let them know where they are, especially if the family is separated. Everyone should know this contact's phone numbers. After a disaster, it is often easier to make a long-distance call than a local call from the disaster area.
- Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.
- Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit. Visit www.Ready.gov to attain information on how to assemble a Disaster Supply Kit.
- Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its batt...