Six Ways To Be Prepared For Emergencies This Holiday Season

Christmas tree fires, electrical socket overloads, cooking disasters, and other such emergencies are incredibly rare this time of year, but the overall statistics provide very little comfort to families touched by these mishaps. As preparations for holiday parties enter their final phases, take a few moments to be ready for the unexpected.

Following these tips should chase some of the few remaining shadows from your mind, giving you the extra peace of mind you need to truly enjoy the time with family and friends.

Keep a First Aid Kit

Any time of year, no home or business should be without a good emergency kit. There is no reason to settle for a bulky and poorly-organized kit that has little more than a few Band-Aids and some rubbing alcohol. The best sets are portable, well-organized, and well-stocked with several dozen items. Smaller kits are great for home or office use where help is close at hand; for hiking trips and other excursions, a slightly larger kit may be a good idea. Keep some other emergency supplies, like a flashlight, fire extinguisher, and some of the other things on this list, close to the first aid kit.

Learn Some Skills

Almost anyone can affix a Band-Aid or strike a match, but some of the other items in a preparedness kit require a little training. Watch a quick YouTube video on proper fire extinguisher usage and familiarize yourself with the one in your home, consider learning or refreshing basic CPR skills, and locate utility shut-off valves. At the office, appoint yourself as the emergency response person, because more than likely, no one else will accept that mantle.

Rehearse Evacuation Plans

This step is particularly important with regard to office parties because emergency evacuations are not that uncommon and many of the people at these events have absolutely no idea where the emergency doors, stairs, and other exits are located. Be especially mindful of children, seniors, and other individuals with special needs. If the group is especially large, appoint a few group leaders to point people in the right direction and assure them that someone is looking after them.

Have a Communication Plan

Assume that cell phone and Wi-Fi service will be unavailable in the wake of an emergency. Since it may be simpler to place long distance calls in these situations, designate an out-of-town contact person. After you take a headcount, make an “everyone is all right” phone call. If cell phones and computers are working, that’s just an unexpected bonus, so do not depend on these forms of communication.

Use Cell Phone Alerts

Yes, cell phone alerts are annoying, especially when they overwhelm the phone’s silent mode at the most inopportune time. But these government alerts are also the best way to receive reliable information before, during, and after an emergency. Over-the-air broadcast signals are less likely to be affected by a disaster, so tune into local TV or NOAA weather radio as appropriate.

Be Ready to Help

If you have taken most or all of these steps, you may be the only person in your neighborhood who is even remotely ready for a local or regional disaster. The next step is to look beyond the walls of your home or office and see how you can be ready to assist others who either weren’t ready or suffered loss. The Red Cross and other agencies have many opportunities in many capacities, and they almost never say no to people who want to help.

Have a wonderful holiday season, however, you choose to celebrate it, and carve out a few moments for thoughtful emergency preparation because the small investment of time can make a big difference.

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