Plans are of little importance, but planning is essential. - Winston Churchill
Think about how much planning goes into a family vacation. You need to pick a destination, vet the hotels, figure out where local grocery stores and gas stations are, and then there is the actual packing. If you have kids, the amount of stuff that they absolutely must have is enough to fill a jumbo jet on its own.
Now think about what you would need to do in the event that you had to evacuate on short notice. What if your family was separated when you had to evacuate? This is a possibility that could occur in the event of a hazardous material spill or if your home caught fire. Prepare for these events by putting together a family emergency plan.
First, begin by answering these four questions;
- How will I know an emergency is or has happened? How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
- What is my shelter plan? Where will we go in the event we have to evacuate? What if we have to stay home?
- What is my evacuation end point and route? Do you know how to get there if the main roads are closed?
- How will I get in contact with my family if cell towers are overwhelmed? What is my family communication plan?
In addition to these questions, take into account needs specific to your household, such as;
- Different ages of the members within your household
- Dietary needs
- Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment
- Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment
- Languages spoken
- Cultural and religious considerations
- Pets or service animals
Build your Family Emergency Plan
Your family emergency plan should include;
- Communication information - write down important phone numbers in case you lose your phone or the battery dies. Include back-up methods such as messaging apps in the event you cant get a phone call out but internet is working
- Emergency Meeting Places - Designate where your family will meet in the event of an emergency. Discuss who will pick up the kids and/ or pets.
- School, Childcare, Caregiver and Workplace Emergency Plans - Write down how you will contact your work or school and what the emergency pick up plans are for children. In the event you are unable to pick them up, do you have a back-up? What sort of credentials does your back-up need to pick up your kids?
- Utility Information - Download and register for utility applications that allow you to report outages without making a phone call. Write down account numbers for your utility accounts.
- Insurance Information - Keep paper or electronic records of your insurance policies and numbers to expedite the process following a disaster.
Use this template to begin developing your own family emergency plan - Family Emergency Plan Template
Ask how to get prepared and the answer will almost always come back; build a kit. An emergency kit allows yourself and your family to be self-sufficient for a minimum of three days, a week ideally. There are a two ways to go about building an emergency kit: purchasing a ready-built kit or building your own. Both have their pros and cons. The ready built kit will have the majority of what you need, often in a handy backpack or box, but they can get pricey and you will need to add items specific to your family. Building your own takes a little more time and effort but you can tailor it to your needs exactly.
Print this checklist to mark off your items and keep track of expiration dates: Emergency Kit Checklist
Pro tip: purchase one or two items each time you shop rather than one massive shopping trip (and look out for sales!). Whichever route you choose be sure to include the following items minimum;
Water and Food
Rotate the food in your supply kit regularly.
- Every six months: powered milk, dried fruits, crackers
- Every year: canned items (soups, meats, fruits, vegetables, juices), peanut butter, jelly, hard candy, canned nuts
- Can be stored forever: (in air tight containers away from heat): vegetable oil, dried corn and wheat, baking powder, soybeans, instant coffee, tea and cocoa, salt rice, bouillon products and dry pasta
First Aid Kit
Clothing and Bedding
The most important aspect of being prepared is knowing. Knowing what disasters could impact you and knowing where to find reliable information about events that change by the minute.
- Sign up for alerts from you local governments and government agencies. Bowie utilizes Alert Bowie to send out emergency alerts and notifications to our residents.
- Apps such as the FEMA App will send you alerts from multiple different locations, allowing you to know what weather events and emergencies are impacting family or friends across the county.
During an emergency, the City will use every method possible to push out information to our residents and visitors. The primary methods will be Alert Bowie, social media, and this website.
Social media has this wonderful ability to spread rumors at light speed, drowning out the real news in a mess of useless information. During a disaster do not believe everything you read on the internet, use your established and vetted social media accounts.
Social Media Accounts
Here are some of the accounts used by public safety agencies in Bowie:
There is a wide range of training available to help you be prepared:
Bowie Volunteer Fire Department offers CPR and AED training year round. Register for a class here.
American Red Cross offers Babysitting and Childcare, Lifeguard and Swim Training in addition to their CPR courses. Search for a course here.
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Online Training
Search for and register for a FEMA course here.