One of the most important
responsibilities of local government is to protect its
citizens in the event of any kind of disaster – either a
natural one or one caused by political strife. Bloomfield
Township has always taken this mandate very seriously and has
had emergency plans in place for decades. Now, with increased
and changing threats to our security, the Board of Trustees
has directed all departments to renew their efforts, review
all plans and revise them where necessary in order to be
prepared for emergency situations of any kind.
While terrorism and other man-made disasters are a concern,
we cannot forget that a natural catastrophe is far more likely
to affect us locally. By preparing for these, our ability to
cope with other emergencies will be greatly improved. The same
supplies we would store before a major snowstorm, for example,
could also be used should a man-made disaster occur.
List of guidelines to
help you prepare your home for an emergency
Family Preparedness Workbook
Disaster Preparedness at Home
This is not an exhaustive list of the supplies you will
need during an emergency, just a few ideas to get you
started and get you thinking.
- Keep enough food in your home to keep your family fed
for at least 4 days. Canned and dry goods (rice, spaghetti,
dried beans, etc.) are the best kind to have, as they are
not dependant upon refrigeration and have long shelf lives.
- Have battery-powered radios and lights. Keep a supply of
fresh batteries on hand. Consider purchasing rechargeable
flashlights that can be left connected to their charger
- Develop a Family Communications Plan. Have alternate
ways of contacting family members should electricity,
cellular phone, and landline telephone services become
inoperative. Designate a meeting point for your family
members well outside of your neighborhood. This is where
your family will regroup if travel back to your home is
impossible or very difficult. Designate an out-of-state
relative to be a contact point; if your family members get
separated and are unable to contact you directly, they will
call this relative to relay to you where they are.
- Keep your car(s) in good repair and keep their gas tanks
as full as possible. Remember, one blackout can close dozens
or hundreds of gas stations, leaving you stranded.
- Have at least a couple of ‘regular’ (non cordless)
telephones in your home. If your home suffers from a power
failure, cordless phones will no longer work.
- Keep a battery powered weather radio in your home. Local
emergency management will be able to broadcast area specific
information that may be crucial to you and your family.
These radios are inexpensive and can be purchased for as
little as $20. Contact your local electronics retailer for
- Have a supply of hand tools available. Hammers, saws,
pry bars, brooms, shovels, etc., may all prove critical to
early disaster mitigation in your home.
- Don’t forget to keep an emergency supply of toiletries
and hygiene products in your home. Hygiene and appropriate
sanitation are critical during and after a disaster to
prevent disease. As common as water main breaks are, even
under ‘normal’ conditions, you will need a household
contingency plan to provide for septic waste in an
emergency. One solution might be to store several gallons of
water in your home to be used only for operating the toilets
- Potable (drinkable) water should also be stored in your
home. There should be at least 2-3 gallons of water
available per day during the emergency for each member of
your household. Purchasing and storing bottled water is an
option. Another option would be to thoroughly clean empty
plastic milk jug containers and their lids with hot, soapy
water. After cleaning and rinsing, fill them with water that
you have boiled and allowed to cool to room temperature.
Now, store these jugs of water in a cool place away from
sunlight. Sometimes after long storage, water can taste
stale or flat. Boiling this water for several minutes, then
allowing it to cool to room temperature greatly improves the
flavor of stored water. Also consider purchasing and storing
several bottles of hydrating sports drinks.
- Keep a well-stocked first aid kit in your home. While
you should have a first aid kit for everyday use, there
should be one that is reserved solely for use during a local
Check with your local American Red Cross
chapter on how you should stock this emergency kit. Also, take a course in first aid and CPR.
- Don’t forget your pets! Remember, their needs will not
cease during a disaster. They will still need their food and
- If you have prescription drugs, don’t wait until you
have taken the last of your medications to get them
refilled. A local interruption of electrical power can
easily last several days, as we have seen, and pharmacies
may well be closed until power is restored. By refilling
your prescriptions at least a few days before your current
supply is exhausted, the chances of running out of them
during an unforeseen event are reduced.
- NEVER use a barbeque or similar open flame cooking
appliance indoors! Besides the obvious fire hazard, cooking
in this manner generates deadly carbon monoxide. Use these
devices where they are intended to be used - OUTSIDE!
- Don’t forget family members with special needs. They
will require uninterrupted support even during emergencies
- Remain calm. Your children will look to you for
leadership and assurance. Explain to your children what is
happening in a way that they can understand. Tell them that
people are working to fix the problem.