Creating a Family Emergency Plan After Having a Baby: What You Need to Do
Disaster can strike any time, so it’s especially important to have an emergency plan in place. These plans are extremely relevant if you have an infant or toddler in the household who depends on you to get them to safety when the time comes.
If you don’t already have an emergency plan in place, you can create one designed to keep you and your family safe.
Review Your Existing Plan — Together
If you already have an emergency plan, now’s the time to review it. This review is critical if it’s been a while since you made sure everyone in the household is on the same page.
Once everyone’s looped in, this also presents an excellent opportunity to make necessary changes or other updates.
Focus on Local Disasters
When creating or updating an emergency plan, it’s important to learn about common disasters in your area and avoid focusing on those that are less likely to occur. For example, if you live in the Midwest, your primary focus might be on tornadoes, whereas someone on the West Coast would more likely prepare for an earthquake.
Develop a Communication Plan
A communication plan lets your family know what to do after an emergency, including how to get in touch with other members if you become separated and how to find each other.
Everyone needs to be involved in the planning process, and you should roleplay different scenarios to make sure your family members have the necessary knowledge. Here are some best practices when developing your emergency plan:
- Include important contact information for work, schools, hospitals, and doctors.
- Write your plan down on a piece of paper and store it in a safe location.
- Don’t forget to account for everyone’s medical requirements (including prescriptions), dietary needs, and mobility issues.
- Include information for out-of-town family members, who can act as a central contact point if communication’s lost in your home area.
It’s a good idea to update your communication plan once per year, as information can frequently change. Also, make sure your family practices the plan when you update details so that it becomes second nature.
Make Multiple Emergency Kits
An emergency kit is a box or bag that contains essential equipment and other supplies needed during a crisis. Some everyday items found in emergency kits include:
- Battery-powered radio;
- Spare batteries;
- First aid supplies;
- A change of clothes for everyone in the household;
- Cleaning wipes;
- Personal hygiene items;
- Garbage bags;
- Multi-tools or pocket knives;
- Basic tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and wrenches;
- An ax or saw;
- Collapsible shovel.
Make sure that you also include a copy of your disaster plan in each kit.
Baby’s Emergency Kit
When it comes to your baby’s emergency kit, you’ll need to include specific items like:
- Diapers and a diaper bag or caddy;
- Cotton balls;
- Several changes of clothes;
- Scissors and nail clippers;
- Brush or comb;
- Infant acetaminophen;
- Antiseptic spray;
- Medicine dropper;
- Gas drops;
- Nasal aspirator.
Designate a Disaster Buddy
It can take time for help to arrive after an emergency, and a disaster buddy is someone who works with you to monitor, assist, and ensure you’re both safe in the interim. In other words, whether it’s a trusted neighbor, friend, or family member, you both share the responsibility for ensuring each other’s wellbeing.
In general, it’s a good idea for both of you to be aware of each other’s emergency plans. Ideally, you’ll have copies of each on hand and practice drills together before an event occurs.
Consider How Your Baby Will Sleep
Make sure that you pack essential sleep items for your baby, including blankets, burp cloths, changes of clothes, pacifiers, and even a battery-powered sound machine if space permits.
Plan to Get Healthcare
In the wake of a disaster, anyone who needs healthcare must have quick and easy access. Here are some special considerations:
You might not have immediate access to healthcare during an emergency, so it’s important to take extra care of yourself as a mother until you can, depending on the stage you’re in.
For example, issues to address include:
- Managing postpartum depression;
- Attending to your wounds after a c-section;
- Managing hypertension and hemorrhage;
- Preventing infection.
Depending on your baby’s age, you’ll want to:
- Maintain a comfortable temperature;
- Develop a nightly sleep routine;
- Use plain water for bathing;
- Keep in contact with local hospitals who can guide you if something goes wrong.
- Immediately address symptoms of jaundice, colic, cradle cap, anemia, vomiting, and diaper rash.
These recommendations are especially important if your baby recently came home from NICU.
Determine How to Feed Your Baby
An unexpected disaster can impact your ability to feed your baby safely. Here are some general tips to keep in mind if the time comes.
If you’re already breastfeeding your baby, you’ll want to bring emergency supplies to make the process as easy as possible, including breastfeeding-specific clothes such as shirts, covers, and smocks.
If you have enough space, a battery-powered breast pump can help you quickly feed your baby during a disaster. You’ll also want to consider moisturizer for sore nipples, along with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer made from at least 60% alcohol if soap and hot water aren’t available.
You can use this same hand sanitizer when preparing a ready-to-feed formula for your baby to ensure no contamination occurs. If none is available, use bottled or boiled water to prepare concentrated formula (just make sure the water cools before feeding your baby).
You can also use boiled water to clean bottles and nipples before and after each use.
If your baby is old enough for solids, you’ll want to include them in your emergency plan. Popular baby meal options include yogurt, infant cereal, small bites of fruit and cooked vegetables, cheese (including cottage cheese), and avocado, which you can temporarily store in a cooler outfitted with a few ice packs.
Prepare Your Home
Now that you have everyone in your household covered when an emergency arises, the final step is to prepare your home.
For example, you can bring outdoor objects inside, such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools, and prepare windows, doors, and garages. You’ll also want to locate water, gas, and electricity shut-offs, unplug electrical appliances if you lose power, ensure your pets are safe, and elevate your furniture if your home is susceptible to flood.