The State Office of Risk Management provides Continuity of Operations (COOP) guidelines (in accordance with FEMA standards) for Texas state agencies, and also suggests that families develop an emergency preparedness plan for the home. A well-developed emergency plan can relieve the stress of dealing with a catastrophic event, and may also help you from missing work. Most of us spend more time making arrangements for a dream vacation than planning for the nightmare of a catastrophic event at home.
When preparing for a vacation, you need to have a plan in place, map out where you’re going, know what to take, decide where your pets will stay, bring medication, and provide contact information to friends and family in case of an emergency. With that in mind, the guidelines created by the Department of Homeland Security for emergency preparedness easily compare to that of planning for a vacation.
FEMA’s emergency preparedness website, Ready.gov, provides several resources to assist families in preparing for an emergency event. The Family Emergency Plan is a downloadable and printable form where families can sit down together to enter important contact information, meeting locations, and important medical information.
The following additional resources are also available to assist with advanced planning for a catastrophic event:
- Pet and Animal Emergency Planning – Explains ways to shelter, protect, and care for your pet
- Basic Disaster Supplies Kit – Provides recommendations for emergency supply kits
- Individuals with Disabilities and Others with Access and Functional Needs – Addresses modified plans for those with special needs
- Utility Shut-off & Safety – Discusses the importance of all family members becoming familiar with utility safety, and how to shut off utilities such as natural gas, water, and electricity
- School and Workplace – Addresses communication with schools and workplaces about their emergency response plans
- Workplace Plans – Helps direct employers to building emergency plans for the workplace
- Escape Routes – Explains the importance of creating a floorplan for your home, establishing meeting places, and practicing evacuations
Kids even have their own site with resources to make a family communication plan, build an emergency kit, and learn how to become involved in family and community preparation.
Keep communication open with your family, and discuss the plan before you put it into place. Be sure to practice your plan at least twice a year to be fully prepared, and to see if you need to make adjustments. You should also teach your family how to use text messaging on their cell phones since networks can often get overwhelmed when making calls during events.
Once you have your disaster plan in place, take a vacation! You already have everything you need to be prepared for both.