Prepare Your Home for Emergencies — Room by Room
With a new year comes a renewed desire to improve our health, to become more organized, to save more and spend less. However, have you thought that maybe this could be the year you can prepare your home for emergencies — room by room?
Let’s take a step-by-step look at your house and consider ways to help become safer and more prepared for extreme weather or home emergencies.
In Every Room
- Emergency lighting: Whether in the form of flashlights or battery-operated lanterns, having emergency lighting in every room is important to help make sure your family stays safe in a crisis. Battery-operated or hand-cranked lanterns are a safe way to add light to a room made dark from a power outage. Make sure to keep extra batteries on hand to recharge if needed. It’s safest to avoid candles and oil lamps as they can easily be knocked over and create a fire hazard.
On Every Floor
- Fire extinguisher: Not only for the kitchen, but your garage, your upstairs and your basement may need the protection of a fire extinguisher.
- Carbon monoxide detector and smoke alarm: Ready.gov suggests that you have a carbon monoxide and smoke detector on each floor of your home, preferably near the bedrooms, to help ensure the alarm is heard when everyone is asleep.
- Fire extinguisher: According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) roughly 45 percent of all house fires are caused by cooking-related accidents. Having an up-to-date, working fire extinguisher may help you prevent fires from spreading to the rest of your house. You can also check out a video that can help you choose the right fire extinguisher and maintain it.
- List of emergency contact numbers: Including local police, fire department, the American Association of Poison Control Centers, family, etc. Keep it on the refrigerator or in a safe space.
- Extra food and water: Try to have a minimum of three to five days of food and water in your home to get you through any times when you may not be able to leave your home to pick up supplies.
- First aid kit: Keep a small first aid kit in the kitchen not only to help with minor cooking mishaps, but to have a first aid kit handy on a floor where you may not have a bathroom nearby.
- Extra batteries: Store extra batteries for all of your devices (smoke alarms, radios, flashlights, etc.) in a place that is easily accessible to your family, like a utility or kitchen desk drawer. Don’t forget batteries should be stored in their original packaging and not loose in a drawer, according to the NFPA. Consider rotating your battery supply once a year with fresh batteries to make sure that each time you need to reach for one, it’s fresh and fully charged.
- Weather radio: While you may be thinking that you have a great weather app on your phone, when an emergency happens, local cell phone service may be interrupted. With a battery-operated weather radio, not only are you able to receive weather updates via the National Weather Service, there are also local news stations available to keep up to date on what is happening in your area.
- Alternative communication: Besides a weather radio, a corded phone plugged into your landline is a good way to reach your local emergency hotline in the case of a crisis if all of your power is out. Be sure to check this service is available in your area.
- Emergency lighting: Keep a flashlight next to each bed.
- Shoes: Something so simple and so obvious might actually be an important tool to help keep you and your family safe when trying to leave the house in the event of an emergency. Consider keeping a pair tucked under the end of each bed in your home. Make sure the shoes are out of the way so there’s no tripping.
- Emergency escape ladders: If your home has a second floor, an emergency escape ladder can be something to consider for each bedroom. These ladders may help with a potential secondary escape route in case of an emergency. According to the NFPA, read over the manufacturer’s instructions and safety precautions to familiarize yourself with how to use in an emergency.
- Extra blankets: Not only are these handy to add extra layers on your bed if the power goes out in cold weather, but they can also be used to cover windows to provide extra insulation in case the heat goes out.
- First aid kits: Keep a fresh, well-stocked first aid kit in each bathroom of your home. Consider one also for the kitchen area if you don’t have a bathroom located near it.
- Lights: According to the National Crime Prevention Council, keeping the front entry well-lit can help prevent break-ins because potential burglars don’t want to be seen or spotted.
- Locks: Having a good heavy-duty lock and deadbolt can be essential to helping to keep your front door secure from break-ins. Consider an inside, keyless deadbolt to make your door even more secure when you are at home. This inside lock helps keep the door locked without having an outside lock that could potentially be picked.
- 72-hour kits: Much like an emergency kit for your car, having a home emergency kit to grab in case of an evacuation can help keep your family fed and warm until such time that emergency services can reach you or you find alternative shelter. Most often stored in backpacks, these kits can be put on shelves or hooks near your front entrance or just inside your garage door. Check out my printable checklist to create your own grab and go kit.
Take a moment to do a quick home inventory to find out where you stand, and plan on preparing your home, room by room. Focus on a room each day, each week or each month, and soon you’ll have your home prepared for emergencies — room by room!