Be Prepared: Do Something Today

Tami Girsberger, Author, “It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark”

Author Tami Girsberger says it helps to think more in terms of real life “urgencies”… than a huge emergency or disaster. She offers four things you can do today to be more prepared, and a fifth one you could do this weekend.

1. Lightsticks & whistle in every nightstand. In an emergency you can blow the whistle to alert someone to the fact that you need help. You can blow a whistle much louder and much longer than you can yell. A light source will not only help you navigate through the house to escape, but will also help rescuers or other family members to easily locate you in the event you are trapped or not able to evacuate on your on. It is also a great idea to keep a pair of shoes by your bedside. Very often broken glass from pictures and other household goods lay dangerously on the floor after an emergency.

2. Know where your water shut off is in the house. Clearly label it and teach family members when and how to shut of the water. Although young children may never shut off the water, they can be very helpful in quickly showing a babysitter, neighbor, or fireman, where the water shut off is located. It is typically located in the basement near the front of the house.

3. Jot down your contact information. Phone numbers for cell phones, work, schools, daycare,etc can easily be listed on a wallet sized contact card. Be sure to also include phone numbers for close relatives, neighbor, doctors, insurance, utility companies (gas, water, power), out-of-state contacts. It is also a great idea to include e-mail addresses in case communication is not available by phone or cell. Hint: use the downloadable contact information card available from the American Red Cross. (

4. Create a meeting spot. As a family, plan a designated meeting place to reconvene after an emergency. You should have two places: 1) a spot inside your neighborhood i.e. the mailbox, the streetlight, the cul-de-sac, etc. The purpose of this spot is to quickly account for family members in the event you must evacuate your home. 2) a spot outside of your neighborhood. A larger, widespread emergency may require you to meet at a spot outside your neighborhood. Plan a specific spot at a church building, school, park, or other area.

5. Plan and practice your escape routes from each room in the house. How would you exit your home if the doors were blocked? Every two-story home should have an escape ladder. Practice using it and make sure everyone knows where it is stored and how and when to use it. Teach family members how to unlock windows and climb out of a window well in the basement (again, teach them how and when this is appropriate). After each person exits the house, meet at the predesignated family meeting spot. Remember, during an actual emergency, once you are out, stay out until it is safe to return.

Tami Girsberger is author of “It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark, Family Preparedness Hints” (available through Deseret Book Stores)

She can answer questions, and help you purchase emergency preparedness products.
Send Tami an e-mail at:

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