Back-to-School: How to start your family's emergency plan

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The new school year is a big transition period for families! With the fall bringing a second season of severe weather, now is the perfect time to come up with your family emergency plan.

Larry Woods, the Office of Emergency Management Director says the potential is there for a disaster to strike. His office has identified 31 potential hazards in Green county, including tornadoes, flooding, and earthquakes. Families need to prepare ahead of time by coming up with their disaster safety plan.

"Those kind of things are things that need to be thought about ahead of time... so that when the emergency happens, you just do it," Woods said.

A good emergency plan... has three components.

The First one: Multiple ways of communication, because cell phones or the power may go out. You need to go old school and write down important phone numbers or addresses. These lists can be kept in your children's backpacks, or purses, so that you always have them on hand. A portable weather radio or a wireless radio is also necessary in every home so you have access to information.

Carissa Miller, a mom of six children, says, "That's something we need to talk about, I have no idea what to do if the cell phone towers went out. No one carries a landline anymore."

The second thing to do is have a designated meeting space. Family members may not always be together, parents are at work, and kids go to school. Find a landmark or a building where your family can meet up if something were to happen. A library, church, another relative's or a friend's house are all good options.

Lastly, now is the time to put together an emergency kit. Think about what items your family uses on a day to day basis, and add that to the kit. Extra chargers, batteries, favorite snacks, coloring books for the kids, are all good items. Also remember the essentials, such as non perishable food items, first aid kit, a flashlight, jackets, and anything your pets need. Make sure this emergency kit is compact and in an easy to access location.
After these three steps, practice your plan. It does not have to be an official process, but go over it and walk through all the steps as a family. Show your kids the meeting point, instruct everyone on what to do with the emergency kit. Be on the same page of what to do, and where to go.

Do not be tempted into thinking that just because it has not happened yet, that it will not happen. Do not fall into this trap. It is better to come up with a plan now, and be prepared, then to not have a plan in the case of an emergency.