By Tom Sivak
Regional Administrator, FEMA Region 5
Many families—including mine—consider free time a valuable commodity. Between full-time jobs, and three young, active sons, an open schedule together is a scarcity for my family.
Though infrequent, I’ve made it a priority to use some of these free moments to talk with them about the possible disaster risks we could face, ensuring they know how to stay safe if something unexpected occurs.
Consider taking advantage of a rare free moment in your family’s day to talk to about emergency safety and disaster preparedness. The process doesn’t need to be difficult or even boring, and it could be a life-saving lesson for everyone, even you.
First Step: Plan to Act. You’ll want to have a family communications plan in case something happens, and your family isn’t together. Consider ordering dinner in and watching this short video from the Disaster Dodgers, a group of young people who guide you through building a plan and the important items you’ll need in an emergency supply kit to make sure everyone is disaster ready.
Make it Fun. FEMA offers online games to engage your kids, teaching them the skills they need to get ready for disasters and act if something happens.
1. Ready 2 Help card game: respond to different situations by working with your friends and using skills that will help you in a real emergency.
2. Disaster Master game: get to safety in different simulated disaster situations.
3. Build-a-Kit game: create an emergency supply kit online and use what you learned to build one at home.
Start Collecting What You Need. Building a kit of basic supplies in case of a disaster doesn’t have to be expensive. Many of the items may already be in your home: a flashlight, extra batteries, bottled water (think a milk-jug sized container per person), and non-perishable food to cover several days. Consider any additional items to meet the unique needs of each family member, including pets; you can always make it a scavenger hunt at home or at the store to put together your emergency kit. Don’t forget you’ll need emergency supplies for your car too!
Get Involved. Once your family starts working toward disaster readiness, consider ways you can help your neighbors and friends get prepared too. It might be as simple as visiting the family next door and teaching them what you know. FEMA also offers other opportunities to get even more involved, from the Community Emergency Response Team Program and Teen Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) Program, which provides training in disaster preparedness and emergency response and FEMA’s Youth Preparedness Council, a program offering youth leaders a chance to support disaster preparedness by completing projects nationally and locally.
FEMA’s website, www.Ready.gov, offers a wealth of information to help you and your family navigate the process of learning about disaster risks and the best ways to prepare for them. The life you’ve built is worth protecting. Preparing for disasters can help create a lasting legacy for you and your family. Join me in empowering our kids and the next generation to be prepared NOT scared in the face of future disasters or emergencies.