The 12 ‘tips’ of Christmas (they can keep you and your family safe all year long)

Disaster recovery kits
Disaster recovery kits for individuals, families (even pets), can be invaluable during the first days following a major disaster. Photo: American Red Cross.

Maybe you have heard all the carols and holiday music you care to hear for one year. Or, maybe you are still brimming with yuletide enthusiasm. Regardless, we bring you 12 tips that can keep you and your family safe throughout your lifetime. As you spend time with friends and family this holiday season, consider the possible emergencies that can occur and what you can do to keep everyone you love prepared. Here are a dozen tips for year-round preparedness…

  1. Prepare your trees for winter
    Winter storms can do a number on your trees. Downed and damaged trees could fall on your home, your car, a powerline, or even a person. Follow these tips to keep your trees healthy and better able to resist storm damage this winter.
  2. Identify your hazards
    Identify the potential hazards in your home and learn how to fix them. People are often injured or killed in earthquakes by unsecured objects such as bookshelves. Secure anything heavy enough to hurt you if it falls on you, or fragile enough to be a significant loss if it falls.
  3. Learn about your area’s natural hazards
    Learn about the natural hazards that put your family at risk and what to do if they occur. Teach your kids what to do and practice your emergency action plan.
  4. Develop an Emergency Action Plan
    Make an emergency plan with your family and practice it! Have different plans for different variables. What if your kids are at school or a sports practice? Make sure they know what to do if you can’t be there to help them.     
  5. Build a disaster kit
    Build different disaster kits for the different needs your family will have. Have a comfort kit in your home with supplies that can sustain you through many days without other sources of food or water. Store compact emergency kits in your car. Tailor the kits to your needs, such as special items like diapers for babies.
  6. Keep up with disaster news
    Keep up to date on new developments and articles from Washington’s Emergency Management Division with Washington’s Disaster News. Keep a battery-powered radio (and spare batteries) on hand to monitor developments immediately after a disaster when electrical power may be interrupted. Consider purchasing a weather radio. Staying in the loop helps assure that you, your family and friends are prepared when disaster strikes.
  7. Get trained and know how to help
    The American Red Cross offers courses on emergency response and first aid that could become extremely valuable in the event of an emergency. Know how to recognize the signs of shock or trauma that may not be easily detected without proper training. Learn CPR and you might save a life.
  8. Be prepared for evacuation
    Last summer’s wildfire season left a lot of Washington residents on edge. The scary truth is, a natural disasters may force you to flee your home in a hurry. Remember these “P’s of Preparedness” and make sure your family knows what to do if evacuations are ordered.
  9. Get Firewise
    Learn about the Firewise Communities Program that helps communities get prepared and prevent wildfires from becoming disasters. This program encourages local solutions for wildfire safety by involving homeowners, community leaders, planners, developers, firefighters, and others in the effort to protect people and property from wildfire risks.
  10. Know about your region
    Whether you moved to Washington a few months ago or you’ve lived here all your life, it’s a good idea to refresh your knowledge of Washington state’s potential hazards and understand how quickly conditions can change.
  11. Identify your local Emergency Management agency
    Make sure you know what your local emergency management agency is and get familiar with their website and policies. Local emergency managers will have information specific to your region and its risks.
  12. Prepare in a year
    In just one hour a month you could prepare your family for disaster by following the activities laid out in the Washington Emergency Management Division’s Prepare-in-a-Year program.
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