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Nurse Paulo Silva

Chairman of the Nursing Council 
Nursing Coordinator of the HPA - Alvor
Master in Public Protection

 

 

 

Planning for catastrophies in advance
The importance of a family emergency plan

HPA Magazine 13

 


Public Protection is the responsibility of the central, regional and local authorities, but also of all citizens as well as all public and private entities, with the purpose of preventing collective risks inherent to situations of major accidents and/or catastrophes, to mitigating risks and also to protect and rescue persons and property in distress.
As such, no citizen can be unaware of his or her responsibility, as public protection is an ongoing process whereby any individual can be responsible for a dangerous situations. Managing the dangers involved in order to avoid or minimize the impact of the situation is each ones responsibility. Thus, it is extremely important that every citizen is familiar with the Municipal Public Protection Emergency Plan in his area of residence and work.
The disaster management plan, consisting of a preparatory phase, encompasses all measures that enable governments, organizations, communities and even individual citizens to respond quickly and effectively in disaster situations. A good example of preparation is of course the Family Emergency Plan.
The information contained in the Family Emergency Plan should be known to all members of the household and should always be carried by each member, for example, in the form of a card that can be easily placed in a wallet/backpack.
Since the family may not be together when disaster strikes, it is crucial to plan how each one must act or react. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the United States recommends that each individual should be prepared for a disaster to ensure the first 72 hours after the event, which involves having a family emergency plan as well as a three-day home emergency kit containing food, water and other items (www.ready.gov).

 

 


STEP 1 
START OFF BY DISCUSSING THE FOLLOWING 4 QUESTIONS WITH THE FAMILY AND CREATING A PLAN.​

  • a. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?
  • b. What is my shelter plan?
  • c. What is my evacuation route?
  • d. What is my family communication plan?

STEP 2
CONSIDER SPECIFIC HOUSEHOLD NEEDS.

When preparing your plan, adapt it to your specific daily needs and responsibilities, without forgetting:

  • a. The different ages of the members of your household and any member requiring special needs;
  • b. If you are responsible for helping others;
  • c. Places you normally frequent;
  • d. Dietary needs;
  • e. Specific health needs, including medication and specific equipment (e.g. blood glucose monitor if diabetic);
  • f. Pets

STEP 3
COMPLETE A FAMILY EMERGENCY PLAN. ACCORDING TO FEMA IT SHOULD INCLUDE:

  • a. Meeting place (if possible with a telephone contact) in the immediate vicinity of the home, in the city and outside the city;
  • b. Full name of all household members, date of birth and identification and social security number;
  • c. Workplaces and schools of the different members, as well as their respective contact numbers

STEP 4
PRACTICE THE PLAN WITH YOUR FAMILY.

In order to deal with a disaster, it is essential that the family emergency plan contains a basic emergency kit, appropriate to the size and needs of each family.This kit should be reviewed every 6 months to ensure it is operational and, in particular, to control the shelf life of the items it co ntains (see table 1).

THIS KIT CAN BE IMPROVED BY ADDING ADDITIONAL ITEMS

  •  Useful medication and spare spectacles;
  •  Baby food and diapers;
  •  Pet Emergency Kit:
  • > Water and food for 72 hours
  • > Medical records and medication
  • > Collar with nameplate and harness or leash
  • > Transport box
  •  Copies of important documents (eg identification, health insurance) in a waterproof bag;
  •  Money (change) or checks;
  •  Sleeping bag per person;
  •  Complete change of clothes, including a long-sleeved shirt, trousers and comfortable shoes. Consider additional clothing if cold weather;
  •  Pure household bleach (sodium hypochlorite) and dropper as it may be necessary to disinfect the water (9 parts water to one of bleach or in case of emergency 5 drops of bleach per liter of water);
  •  Fire extinguisher;
  •  Matches in a waterproof bag;
  •  Feminine toiletries and other accessories;
  •  Food kits with cups, plates and other plastic utensils, paper towels;
  •  Paper and pencil;
  •  Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children (if applicable);
  •  Consider any special needs, for example with the elderly (if applicable).