Emergencies often occur with little or no notice. You can protect yourself and those around you by taking a few simple steps so you are better prepared should an emergency situation arise.
We all know that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors provide a vital warning in our homes but it is also a good idea to make a home emergency plan to keep all the information you may need in an emergency in one place. Make sure it is stored somewhere that’s easy to grab if you need it and also saved to mobile phones or tablets.
A simple home emergency plan details things such as:
- How to turn the gas, water and electricity off – it may be obvious to you but would the rest of your household know?
- Emergency contact numbers – have a paper copy as well as storing the numbers on your mobile. Make sure you include a friend or family contact away from your home address that everyone could call to confirm they are safe.
- Which friends could you stay with short term if your home was damaged?
Your emergency planning should also make plans for what to do if your home is at risk from a flood Personal flood Plan and cover the care of pets.
In an emergency, the mobile phone network can be inundated with calls. Make sure you have a plan to prepare how you will stay in contact with your family. Consider a designated meeting place just outside of the immediate area where you could all agree to meet.
Once you’ve collected this important information discuss it with the whole household, practice your plan at least once a year and update it according to any issues that arise.
Why not enquire about emergency plans at work or in school. If no plans exist, consider volunteering to help create one.
Also find out about any local community plans which might be in place to help.
What to do in an emergency
There are few key things you should always do:
- If the danger is inside, get out and stay out
- If the danger is outside, get in, stay in and tune in to local radio or TV
- remain calm and reassure others
- check for injuries – remember to help yourself before helping others
- If people are injured or in danger, contact the emergency services by dialling 999/112 and give them all the details
- you should always ensure you and your household are okay first then help vulnerable neighbours if safe to do so
- power cut or emergency – How to prepare yourself and your family.
Make an emergency bag
Use something like an old rucksack to hold items that will be useful if you need to leave the house quickly in an emergency such as a fire or a flood.
The items for each household can vary but may contain some or all of the following:
- a first aid kit and vital medication
- facemasks / coverings
- copies of important documents in a waterproof bag
- copies of prescriptions for regular medication
- a torch (preferably a wind-up torch)
- a radio (with local stations pre-set)
- spare batteries if the torch or radio
- bottled water and some non-perishable emergency foods
- basic toiletries and sanitary supplies
- baby or infant supplies
- spare warm clothes for the winter / sun cream during the summer
- spare sets of keys for home and car
- mobile phone and charger
- spare money and cards
- notebook with pen and pencil
- spare contact lenses or glasses
- a USB with important computer files
- pet food and a toy
- any other items that might provide some comfort if you have to leave your home in a hurry.
Protect your household during a flood
- motorists should not drive through flooded roads or fords
- avoid walking through flooded areas, shallow water moving fast can sweep you off your feet and there may be hidden dangers such as open drains, damaged road surfaces and submerged debris.
- keepout of flood water where possible, as it can become contaminated with sewerage and chemicals.
- property owners – domestic or commercial – are responsible for taking appropriate action to protect their property from flooding.
- if you know you are at risk of flooding, consider what steps you can take to protect your home. Also check on the sandbag policy of your district council.
- households that suffer domestic flooding should contact their insurance companies.
- regard all floodwater as potentially contaminated, wash hands after any contact with floodwater.
- if you are unwell, tell your GP you have been in a flooded area.