By Mirranda Reinhardt for Pregnancy Awareness Month®
Summer time brings an increase in natural disasters around the country and many of us could find ourselves in harm’s way with little notice. Officials often evacuate affected areas to ensure the safety of the residents. For families with babies, young children, or those who are pregnant an evacuation can be particularly stressful. Taking a few minutes to prepare ourselves now could make a big difference in the event of a worst case scenario.
My family and I live in Colorado; to say that the beginning of this summer season has been difficult for our state would be an understatement. We’re in the midst of a severe drought, and as a result wildfires are popping up all across the state. Less than an hour away from me, families and entire communities are evacuating their homes with very little notice. I feel fortunate that my family has thus far been out of danger, but with new fires breaking out on a daily basis I know it’s time to prepare myself just in case. I’m very concerned about dealing with any potential crisis in a way that is least likely to negatively impact my little ones. If you’re with me in feeling the need to prepare yourself, let’s start on it together. These tips can help us get ready for a potential evacuation and survive it if the unthinkable happens.
There are certain things that every family should do before a crisis. Making a basic exit plan, having a few essential supplies and knowing where important documents are located top the list. For planning tips that apply to all of us visit ready.gov or the American Red Cross. Make an emergency plan and tape it to the refrigerator or someplace where you won’t forget it.
Plan for the kids:
When you have a baby or little one, the list of basic necessities grows a lot longer. If you’re in an area that may be threatened, it’s a good idea to have certain things on hand at all times. Keep an extra package of diapers, plenty of wipes and any needed medications for baby in a place that’s easy to get to. Don’t count on being able to get needed supplies on your way out of an evacuation area. As I watched the news this week there were reports of stores running out of many essentials. Write a list of everything that you and baby can’t live without on the bottom of your emergency plan. For us, this would include not only food and water but special lovies to help keep our kids calm. Keep in mind the circumstances you are likely to be facing when determining what’s most important to take. If you have to leave your home, referring to your “must have” list may keep you from losing your bearings while trying to gather your belongings. Please, if you are immediate danger forget the belongings and just leave. After all, your safety is the most important thing.
Know where you’ll go:
During natural disasters, shelters are usually open to house families that have been displaced. For pregnant mamas and families with young children however, shelters can be pretty uncomfortable. If you have friends or family nearby determine a few possible scenarios for where to stay. Knowing where you’re headed ahead of time will help prevent panic.
This is where I lose it and why I find it important to plan ahead. Regular stress I can deal with just fine, but when things get really dicey I sometimes lose my head. Staying calm during an evacuation scenario is important not only for our own mental health, but for our children. If you’re pregnant, this is even more crucial. It’s during these times that it’s especially important to take a deep breath or two and remind yourself that you’ve prepared for this. Most of us will have at least a small amount of advance warning before a natural disaster strikes. Follow your list, stay calm and get yourself and your family to safety.
Last but not least mamas, remember that you have the capacity to be superwoman as needed. You are strong, brave and can empower yourself to face whatever Mother Nature throws at you by preparing yourself ahead of time and moving through the crisis with grace.