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An emergency can occur at any time, to anyone, striking at various levels of severity. The most effective way to prepare yourself for “unknown emergencies” is to develop and implement emergency preparedness techniques and skills at home and within your community. Then, PRACTICE those techniques and skills with your friends and family members. There is never too much preparedness when it means saving a LIFE! You can cope with disaster by preparing in advance and by working with your family as a team. Preparation should include: getting informed (including a checklist), making a plan, establishing a meeting location and maintaining your plan and kit.
Get informed: Visit the website of your local health department (www.cityofchicago.org/health), local emergency management office (www.alertchicago.org) or that of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) (www.ready.gov) to gather the information you will need about disasters that can occur where you live and for information on how to create a plan for protecting yourself and your family during an emergency. Ensure you have a battery-operated radio to stay informed during emergency situations.
Make a plan: Meet with your family members. Review the information you gathered about community hazards and plans. Explain the dangers to children and work with them as a team to prepare your family. Be sure to include caregivers in your meeting and planning efforts. Discuss plans for how the family will meet after a disaster and be sure to choose a main location near your home and a back-up location in case the area near your home is damaged or inaccessible.
Build a kit: A disaster supplies kit is a collection of basic items an individual or family would need to stay safe and self-sufficient during and after a disaster, or until additional help can arrive. Disaster supplies kit items should be stored in a portable container(s), such as a backpack or other easy to carry container, as close as possible to the exit door. Review the contents of your kit at least once per year or as your family’s needs change. Also, consider having emergency supplies in each family vehicle and at your place of employment.
Maintain your plan and kit: Review your plan every six months and quiz your family about what to do. Also, check your kit to ensure the integrity of supplies. Doing so every six months will ensure that family members remember how to implement that plan and that emergency supplies are in good condition.
PRACTICE (!!!): Conduct fire drills and emergency evacuation drills on a regular basis with your family. Ensure the adults in your family know how and when to turn off utilities (electricity, gas and water). Ensure everyone knows where emergency contact information is kept and can access it in an emergency.
Restock: Check food supplies for expiration dates and discard, or replace expired food and water every six months.
Test: Read the indicator on your fire extinguisher(s) and follow the manufacturer's instructions to recharge. Test your smoke alarms monthly and change the batteries at least once a year. Replace alarms every 10 years.
Individual and Family Preparedness Training
In addition to providing individual, group, and family preparedness training for Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) staff members, CDPH also provides basic face-to-face family preparedness trainings to faith-based and community-based organizations and universities. These trainings teach community members how to prepare themselves and their families for a disaster. To learn more about how to schedule training for your organization, please contact the Training Unit at 312.742.7922.