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Money Moment: Home Emergency Preparedness

August 29, 2017 @ 6:47 am CDT

Side of emergency vehicle with the words, "Dial 911"

By Dr. Jennifer Hunter

Dr. Jennifer Hunter

Welcome back to Money Moment episode number 16, with your host, Dr. Jennifer Hunter.

Today’s topic is very important: home emergency preparedness. It’s something we all know that we should plan for and think about, but sometimes it gets moved to the back burner. Fires, flooding, severe storms, earth quakes, tornadoes and hurricanes affect millions of American households every year. Failure to adequately prepare for these emergencies can result in a number of consequences. However, if you and your family experience one of these emergencies, proper planning and preparation will help you survive.

There are 4 steps that you can take with your family to prepare your home for an emergency, which are covered in this episode, along with a person story that serves as an important reminder.


The most important element in preparing your home for an emergency situation is communication. Everyone in your home must be involved and know what to do in the event of an emergency. Additionally, you will want to consider involving your neighbors. In times of crisis, your neighbors will most likely be the first responders to the situation. A home emergency plan is the best way to plan and prepare for an emergency. This plan should be clearly communicated to all members of your household and practiced at least once per year.

A personal story for motivation

A couple of years ago, there was a very small fire at my house. Although small, it was still significant enough, that several fire trucks responded. My husband was at home with our daughter and caught the fire quickly. However, it also happened at the same time our son was getting off the school bus. The road was shut down due to the fire trucks, the school bus had gone a different path, and when he got off the bus he immediately saw what was going on and he was very scared. We had not put a plan in place or had the conversation with him about what to do if he came home and found an emergency situation. Fortunately, as previously mentioned it was a very minor fire and my husband was able to get to him very quickly and calm any fears that he had. But it was a good reminder for us that we needed a better family emergency plan in place.

Know what types of emergencies can affect your home

Certain types of emergencies are more likely to occur in specific geographic areas. For example, you may not know that you might be living in an area that is prone to flash flooding. Regardless of where you live, the number one home emergency is fire.

Adrian Brockwell/Photospin

Create an emergency plan.

Hold a household meeting to discuss how you will respond to a home emergency. It should be clear that all household members will share responsibilities when an emergency occurs. Be mindful of which tasks are age-appropriate for each household member.

  • Discuss how to deal with different types of emergencies, for example, fire, flood, or severe storm. There could be different actions that need to be taken in each situation.
  • Create an evacuation plan. Identify two meeting places outside of your home. One should be in close proximity to your home and the other should be away from your neighborhood in case you are not able to meet close to your home.
  • Establish a safe room in your home that will protect you and your family from emergencies, such as a severe storm. It’s also a good idea to have an emergency kit in that safe place as well as some fun things for the kiddos. Include a few toys that they don’t get to play with very often, definitely a flashlight or two, and maybe a blanket and other items that would help your children feel safe if an emergency occurs.
  • Identify an out of area safety contact person who will be able to assist you. Additionally, consider discussing your emergency plan with a trusted neighbor who can help in the event of an emergency.

Take emergency precautions

Examples of emergency precautions that may help you or your family deal with an emergency situation include:

  • Posting emergency telephone numbers in central locations.
  • Teaching your children how and when to call 911 for emergency assistance.
  • Installing multiple fire extinguishers, at least one on each level of your home.
  • Installing smoke detectors, being sure that smoke detectors are located near all bedrooms.
  • Stocking up on emergency supplies such as food, water, flashlights, matches and so forth.
  • Taking a first aid and CPR class.

Practice your plan

Review your plan every six months. Conduct fire and emergency evacuation drills, test fire extinguishers and smoke detectors and keep your emergency supplies well stocked. Make sure that every member of your household is familiar with your plan and feels comfortable asking questions. Be mindful that a good plan is one that is easily understood and can be adjusted as needed.

These steps are a general plan for action, but because every family has unique needs, consulting other resources for more specific details will help you and your family be better prepared in an emergency.

For example, consider conducting a quick internet search to determine what should be in your disaster supply kit. While creating your home emergency plan you may also think of other steps that you need to take to ensure that your home and your family is prepared for an emergency. Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that commonly accompany home emergencies.

Communication with your family is the best way to clear up confusion during an emergency situation. This is one of those discussions that should not be put off. Hopefully, this is a plan that your family will not have to put into action but it is still always a good idea to be prepared.

Join us for the next episode where we will discuss buying in bulk.




August 29, 2017
6:47 am CDT
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