In case of emergency: 4 tips to remember when planning ahead

WASHINGTON — While people in the paths of hurricanes are learning the importance of emergency preparedness, D.C.-area officials stress such planning doesn’t have to be difficult.

Here are four points to consider when planning ahead for an emergency.

Discuss your family plan

“We ask that families have a dedicated meeting place, preferably outside the immediate neighborhood in case an emergency happens,” said Chas Eby, director of risk reduction at the Maryland Emergency Management Agency.

Ideally, a meeting place would be near public transportation. 

Eby also asked: If your children ride the school bus, is there an alternate method for them to get to that area, or is there a friend of the family or relative who could pick them up if you’re unavailable?

Know how to communicate

Family members can let everyone know they’re safe by contacting an agreed upon person out of town or by using social media.

“Is there a social media platform that everyone in the family is familiar with or has on their mobile device?” Eby said.

Also, realize that during an emergency, text messages might go through when phone calls don’t.

Stock supplies

“I always ask people to think of the following: What do you use every day?” Eby said. “What do you use every day that you’d also need during an emergency?”

Consolidating necessary items into an emergency supply kit is what’s preferred because it’s something you can grab and go with quickly. But Eby said if that’s too daunting a task, “at least know how you can access all the supplies that you need.”

Important documents such as insurance papers and prescriptions can be stored electronically in the cloud or on a flash drive stored in your go kit. A cupboard in the kitchen might include extra medicine, a few days of nonperishable food, a flashlight, batteries and phone chargers.

“Having these things available is always a good thing,” Eby said. “Even absent an emergency, they can be useful.”

Know how to get out; plan for pets

Planning ahead, you could learn whether there’s a designated evacuation route where you live and work and if so, in what direction. If you have pets, you could find out whether they’d be accepted if a local shelter were to open.

Stressing the need to prepare, Eby said you and your loved ones should know the most common potential hazards for your area and stay aware of weather forecasts.

“It just takes one major incident to have a profound effect, not only in a community, but on families and people on an individual level,” Eby warned.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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