Develop a Personal Emergency Plan for you and your family
At some stage, all of us will be impacted by disasters such as Fire, Flood or Storm. Preparing for disasters helps you and your family cope and make better decisions when an emergency affects you. Developing a Personal Emergency Plan is one way you can be better prepared. Be sure to involve all family and household members, including any babysitters and cleaners.
1. Know your risk
Think about the area you live in and what sort of emergency you might face in your home. Find out about other emergency plans, eg your children’s schools, your workplace, your apartment building.
To find out more:
2. Create a home evacuation plan
Draw a floor plan of your home, marking up the main escape route and backup escape routes. It should include routes out of your neighbourhood, the location of equipment and medications you need, and a meeting place outside your home. Give a copy of your evacuation plan to your family and household members and keep a copy on your fridge. Practice your evacuation plan with all household members.
3. Create a contact list
Include details of all family members, carers and local emergency telephone numbers. Good ones to include are the SES, local council, gas, electricity and water, and keep them near your phone.
4. How will you stay in touch?
Decide how family members will stay in touch in the event of, or after, an emergency. Agree on how you will contact each other if not at home, who will collect children from school, who will check on elderly or disabled neighbours.
5. Identify a meeting place
Decide on a meeting place for everyone in your household – one close to home and one further away in case you are unable to return home. Organise an “out of town” person that your family can contact in case you are separated and make a list of that person’s contact details and provide them to your workplace and your children’s school. Inform schools and child care authorities of people who are permitted to pick up your children if you are unable to do so.
6. Plan for your pets and livestock
Develop a plan for family pets, companion animals, assistance animals and livestock – animals may not be allowed into evacuation shelters.
7. Who are your service providers?
Make a list of your service providers (electricity, gas and water) and their contact numbers. Make sure you know where and how to turn off water, gas and electricity supplies in your home if you need to evacuate.
8. Learn some basic first aid
It pays to have first aid skills because they can’t be learnt in an emergency.
9. Obtain a waterproof document holder
Store important documents safely (eg wills, passports, birth and marriage certificates, insurance policies) in a waterproof container or safe deposit box.
Prepare a Home Emergency Kit and Keep it Handy
A small emergency kit stored in an easy-to-reach place is invaluable in a major emergency. Be sure the whole family knows where it’s stored, it’s in a waterproof box, and that you check the use-by dates of its essentials regularly. Things the kit should contain include:
- Emergency food and water supplies for 24 hours
- Medications including prescriptions and toiletries such as a roll of toilet paper
- Special needs for infants, the aged and people with disabilities
- First aid kit and manual
- Portable battery operated radio and spare batteries
- Mobile phone and charger together with the contact details of your agreed out-of-town contacts
- Torch and spare batteries
- Copies of important documents such as passport, driver’s licence, birth certificates, home and medical insurance policies
- Spare clothes and sleeping equipment including strong shoes, broad brimmed hat, leather gloves and sunscreen for each household member, pillows and blankets and strong plastic or waterproof bags (for clothing, valuables, documents and photographs).
- Spare car and house keys
- Credit cards, key cards and cash money
- Playing cards or games
- Pen and notebook
- If you have pets, include some pet food and medications for a couple of days.
Get Your Home Ready
Prepare your home by doing general home maintenance and checking your insurance.
- Trim overhanging trees and branches, and remove dead and dry vegetation from around your house.
- Clean out gutters and downpipes.
- Secure or put away loose items in your yard or on your balcony.
- Check the roof is in good repair.
- Non-combustible fences are the most effective at withstanding the intense heat generated by a bushfire.
- Store wood piles well away from the house and covered if you live in a bush fire prone area.
- Ensure you have a hose, which is long enough to reach every part of your home.
- Remove and store any flammable items away from the house.
- Make sure the pressure relief valves on LPG cylinders face outwards.
- Do a home safety audit and check your smoke alarms are working.
- Make sure your home and contents insurance is up-to-date.