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Plan Ahead: Things Every Parent Should Have at the Ready

This is one of those to do things that gets bumped and bumped down our to do list right? But it’s really something we all need to stop and prioritize. Between health crises like Coronavirus and natural disasters like earthquakes and hurricanes, we really need to take this seriously and get it done!

OK so I have your attention now…before I start, the to do tips I’m giving you are directly from credible sources but your family’s needs may be different than mine. And needs can vary by region. So because I’m not an emergency expert or certified contingency planner I urge you to do your own research on through CREDIBLE news sources like major newspapers and organizations like the Red Cross.

My preparation to do list:

  • Have at least a two week supply of prescription medications and any over the counter medicines you use regularly. So pain killers/fever reducers, age appropriate cough medicines, etc.
  • Buy some basic first aid items.

Important Coronavirus note: economists are predicting that supplies of many things coming from China will likely be depleted soon so if you need to get replacement parts for key appliances or perhaps need to fully replace key household items, sooner rather than later is probably the best timeline.

Please know that I’m NOT encouraging panicked shopping here! And also, certainly not recommended hording. There are already reports of some Costco, Walmart and Targets being stripped bare of any supplies I mentioned above. I’m just talking about calmly making sure you have a 1-2 weeks supply of things you may need.

In order not to waste a bunch of canned food that you’ll hate in two months once the virus is contained, I’d recommend reading this article that gives ideas beyond marginal survivalist food options.

~ Elizabeth, No Qualms Mom founder

  • Prioritize taking care of yourself and have family members do the same: drink plenty of water, get enough rest, stay active, manage stress and eat a healthy balanced diet.
  • Decide on an out of state person everyone will call to check in with in the event of an emergency and let that person know you might need their help in an emergency. This is important! I’ve been in two major earthquakes and local cell phone and landlines can get overloaded and you won’t be able to get through. Send the person a copy of everyone’s phone number and what your family plan is.
  • List all family member’s phone numbers and the above out of state contact person’s phone number inside every person’s cell phone case. Phone battery’s die, and you might need to use a landline or borrow someone’s phone. I used my label maker to keep them readable and safe in the event they get wet. Give a set of labels to any caregiver or near by relatives too. Duplicate this list on paper and put in kid’s backpacks, your purse and in everyone’s wallets.

Coronavirus or other flu tips: disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace. NQM Notes: if no one in your house is sick, it’s up to you to decide how often to disinfect; I’m doing it once a day but you need to do what’s right for your family. If someone is sick at home, I’d suggest disinfecting often through the day. Also, freezing things like toys won’t work – it just makes the germs dormant.

Wash everyone’s dishes using very hot water and soap (in dishwasher or hand wash).

Plus wash everyone’s clothes in a standard washing machine as you normally would. Use detergent and very hot water and wash your hands after handling dirty laundry. NQM tip: bathroom towels are a major germ hotspot as are pillow cases so wash these often! Also, don’t wear things that need special/delicate washing right now or are cold wash only, or wear them and put them in a zip lock to wash after the infection concern has passed.

~ American Red Cross

  • In the case of a major virus or flu outbreak, read this Coronavirus post to know what matters, then keep these things in mind if anyone in your family gets sick: (1) designate one person as the caregiver, (2) keep everyone’s personal items separate. All household members should avoid sharing pens, papers, clothes, towels, sheets, blankets, food or eating utensils unless they have been cleaned between uses, (3) wear disposable gloves when in contact with or cleaning up body fluids.
  • With the above in mind, be sure to have a good supply of dish detergent, clothing detergent, hand sanitizer that’s more than 60% alcohol, disinfecting cleaner, paper towels, toilet paper, kleenex, trash bags, disposable gloves and zip lock bags. NQM Tip: we keep a good supply of disposable plates, glasses and flatware on hand for the times we have power outages (we live in a rural area and this happens pretty often). It would lighten your work load in a flu or virus outbreak so I’d consider adding this to a shopping list as well.
  • Have enough non-perishable food and water on hand for each person to cover at least 3 days if not 7 (1 Gallon per person, per day). Locate a manually operated can opener too.
  • Along with the list of family contact info, make a list of all doctors your family sees and also phone and addresses for local urgent care and hospitals. Give a copy to everyone that has your phone number list. In addition, include a list of each family members medications and any health concerns.
  • Talk over scenario planning with everyone in your family. Adjust to age appropriate explanations for little ones so perhaps have an older kids/parent meeting and a full family meeting. Statements like “if there’s a problem, Mommy or Daddy will pick you up from school. Our back up person if we cannot make it quickly is your grandma.” I really liked the Red Cross’ template on what to do if you’re separated from family members. Check it out!
Photo by Nicole Vaughn
  • Keep calm and give clear, simple instructions because stress and fear are strongly felt by kids. Emphasize that planning doesn’t mean terrible things will happen. Also, you cannot react as well or creatively problem solve if you are too stressed. Help yourself and your family by not freaking out!
  • Make copies of all important documents and compile them in one envelope for easy grab and go senarios; things like: insurance cards, credit cards, passports, driver’s licenses, birth certificates, marriage certificates, wills, list of all major accounts including phone numbers, etc.
  • Keep originals of the above documents together in a single envelope in a fire safe and have all people in the house know the combo (or the hiding place where to find it). If possible, put another set of these documents in a safe deposit box or at a trusted relatives house.
  • Have a modest amount of cash on hand with a mix of $20 and smaller bills. Many ATMs lose power and in the case of flu epidemics, banks may close.
  • If you have warning of a situation heading your way, fill all cars up with gas and fully charge electric cars. The electronic pumps could be disabled if there’s a major power outage.
  • Have a sturdy pet carrier on hand for each pet with basic supplies inside (bowls, food, blanket/bed, etc.). I just picked one up at my local thrift store for $5.
  • Practice any steps to take. Literally walk your kids around the house to see where things like important documents are, the pet carrier is, etc.

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