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How do you create an Emergency Plan? And . . . are there any good software tools to help you out? Here are my suggestions . . .

A good Emergency Plan lists your inventory items (protected assets, tools and equipment, clothing, food, water and supplies), individual and group requirements for Shelter-In-Place and Evacuation, emergency contacts, evacuation routes and destinations, and the actions (tasks) to take before and during the emergency period.

Here are three suggested strategies shown below for preparing your Emergency Plan. Review and choose the strategy below which best fulfills your personal requirements! (I will give you my personal preference at the end)

1. Pen and Notebook. Yeah, that's right -- very basic and immediately doable! A wired notebook with blue-lined pages -- like the ones the school kids use -- holds pages together better than a yellow legal notepad, and can be purchased at just about any office supply, supermarket or drugstore. The large 8 ½ X 11 (standard paper size) size is suggested. Get one that's thick, because you will probably be writing and editing your inventory, contact and task lists a lot before final completion. A three ringed binder with inserted blue-lined pages is even better -- you can then add and remove as many pages as you want, and you can more easily make copies of your completed work.

2. Computer Word Processor or Spreadsheet Document -- has major advantages over basic Pen and Notebook entry. You can copy, paste, edit, re-copy and sort much information without having to constantly rewrite your listed items and tasks. When all entries are complete, simply send your Emergency Plan with all your related lists and information to the printer. There is also the advantage that you can easily save and store a copy of your Emergency Plan for yourself and send a copy to others via an email attachment. I recommend using a spreadsheet program if you have one (e.g, Microsoft Excel ®) instead of a word processor because the spreadsheet program allows you to easily and automatically number, calculate and total your Emergency Plan items. You can tabulate the cost of each item so you can know what you are spending, and you can enter the weight of items so can you know, for instance, how much you can load in your car or truck for transport or evacuation.

3. Emergency Preparedness Database Program -- is a computer software application program specifically designed for Emergency Plan preparation and action. If, comparably, the Pen and Notebook method is like a sturdy pair of hiking boots and the Emergency Preparedness Spreadsheet method is like a good, reliable horse and saddle, then the relational database program is like a supercharged, air conditioned four-wheel drive pickup with front end winch and premier internal stereo system! Specific information on items, principals and contacts can be entered in a relational database program and automatically tabulated, totaled and presented on screen and in custom reports. Tasks and evacuation routes can be entered, and links established for security, weather, road condition and satellite views and other purposes. I have yet to find a good Emergency Preparedness database program for the Apple operating system, but for Windows XP and Windows 7 and 8, check out Home and Office Emergency Preparedness (HOEP). You can download the program for FREE, and you can use the program for up to 21 days without charge -- plenty long enough for most people to create a comprehensive Emergency Plan. Although, if you find the program valuable you may want to get a continued use license -- that helps the programmer stay in business -- and allows you permanent use of all the Emergency Preparedness program's bells and whistles. That program is available at: ChrysSoft Home Page .

The important point -- whatever method you use -- is to stop, review, plan, prioritize and budget -- and actually create a good Emergency Plan. Then print out and/or prepare your final reports and checklists, and have the printed reports and checklists handy for periodic review -- and ready for an actual emergency if one occurs.

Those are my suggestions! Please let me know what your recommendations and preferences are and -- if you use an Apple operating system -- if you have found any good Emergency Preparedness application software designed for that operating system.
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