We all hear that we should be prepared in case of emergency. But what does that entail exactly? A recent event in my private life has made me re-evaluate that exact question. So I asked you this: Are you prepared should a home emergency arise? Hopefully this will help you take stock, and ensure you are prepared.
Here is a checklist of home safety essentials:
- Ensure you have fire extinguishers in all necessary locations
(i.e. basement, garage, kitchen, next to heating system, and at least 1 on each floor)
[Make sure they are easily accessible, properly charged/maintained & rated for the purpose of the location they are kept.]
- Ensure you have working Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Detectors
(test them monthly & replace batteries if necessary)
[You should replace the detectors on the cycle indicated by manufacture, as the sensors in them don't last forever.]
- Have a properly packed home emergency first aid kit.
[Make sure it's easily accessible & kept up to date.]
- Childproof electrical outlets, secure all windows/blinds & lock-up all household chemicals
(if you have small children, this is very important!)
[It's amazing how many times the news reports on a young child hurt or killed, because such basic precuations were never taken.]
- Have a clear plan of evacuation & pre-selected meeting point in case of emergency
(i.e meet on the neighbor's front steps or across the street of your home)
[Make sure everyone in your family knows this plan & practice it as necessary]
- Each upper story bedroom should have an emergency evacuation ladder.
[You will need this, should a fire prevent you from leaving through the door & you need to escape via the window. Ensure each family member knows where they are kep in each room & how to use them. Practice setting one up, so it becomes instictive. You don't want to be caught not knowing, should a fire happen.]
- Keep an updated list of emergency contacts & provide it to people you trust
(i.e. give it to nearby friends & to your immediate neighbors)
- Keep important papers & documents in a fire & water proof safe
(i.e. birth certificates, social security cards, passports, insurance policies, bank account info, most recent tax return, wills, divorce papers, title of ownership for cars/homes/boats/etc, copy of your emergency contact info, list of URLs/usernames/passwords to important online accounts [i.e. banks, 401k, etc..], copy of important door/lock keys, and anything else that is mission critical.)
- Make periodic backups of your digital data & store it properly
(i.e upload to an off-site secure location &/or keep backup media in a fire/water proof location)
- Make sure all locks can be opened from the inside, without a key.
[This is especially important for front/back doors with deadbolts & other security locks. As you don't want to be fumbling with keys, when you need to escape.]
- Prepare a grab-n-go bag for each family member
(i.e include basic clothing, toiletries, flashlight, personal first aid kit, list of emergency contact numbers, some emergency money, etc...)
[In case of evacuation, fire or other emergency, you can simply grab it & go. There is no thinking, when you need to leave in an instant.]
The above may sound like a lot of effort with little or no return. But when a fire, evacuation or other home emergency occurs, you will be prepared to act in an instant & you won't have to think twice about what to do -- it will be instinctive. This ounce of preparation, may just save your life or that of your family...