Is your family prepared?

The images of Japan are horrifying. I can’t quite wrap my brain around what I’m seeing in some of the videos and photos. It’s one thing to watch a video of buildings and cars being swept away by a tsunami, but it’s another to really think about the people who didn’t escape the waves.

As I’ve been reading the reports and watching the videos, the thought that keeps coming back to me is that the people who escaped were able to act quickly. Most people in the seaside towns had between 15 and 30 minutes of warning before the tsunami washed away their towns. That’s barely enough time to gather your thoughts, let alone pick up your children and move to higher ground.

So I’ve been thinking this week about my family’s emergency plan. We have some food storage and emergency supplies in our home, but that doesn’t do much good when your home is underwater or you have to evacuate.

What really matters in those critical minutes is that your family has a plan – Where do you meet if you are separated? What if there is an evacuation while dad is at work and your child is at school? What do you take with you? Where is the best place to find shelter in your home?

All of these are questions parents should discuss with their children before an emergency strikes. It may just make the difference between life and death during that critical window of opportunity.

One great website,, provides guidelines for getting your family prepared, such as choosing an out-of-state contact person, picking one meeting place close to home and another in case of evacuation, and knowing how to turn off your home’s gas lines.

Do you have any tips for creating a family emergency plan? What is your family’s plan?

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for the Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister’s nose.

Leave a comment encourages a civil dialogue among its readers. We welcome your thoughtful comments.