10 Ways to protect your family, from insurance policies to bugout bags

None of us ever expects tragedy to strike our family or home, and yet the unexpected happens every day across the country, so it’s important to have a plan in place to protect our family and our stuff. While it’s virtually impossible to ensure that no harm ever comes to our family members, our house, or our car, it’s still a good idea to be proactive about our family’s safety.

Part of that can come through learning and teaching ourselves and our kids about the appropriate response to things that threaten that safety — which can range from how to deal with strangers to a medical emergency to a car accident or house fire — and part of it can be having the policies and gear in place to help you weather life’s unexpected moments.

Here are 10 ways to help protect your family (and their stuff):

  1. First aid kit: At the most basic level, each home and car should have a first aid kit stocked with everything needed to deal with minor medical situations, as well as to do initial first aid in the event of an emergency that will require calling an ambulance or transporting the person to the emergency room. These first aid kits should be periodically restocked, especially if your kids tend to raid them for bandaids, and should include items that are specific to your family’s health needs, which may be anything from antihistamines to an EpiPen.
  2. First aid training: Consider taking a first responder or family first aid class, as well as a CPR class, and then teaching basic first aid skills to your kids. Knowing what to do first, and what not to do, in the event of a medical emergency, can be an invaluable skill, especially if you live far from the nearest hospital or fire station.
  3. Have an emergency plan: It’s not pleasant to imagine that something could happen to you or your spouse and kids, but knowing you have a plan in place can add to your peace of mind. This can range from the basics of having emergency contact info written down by the phone, having your kids memorize their street address, and teaching them how and when to dial 911 if necessary, to a full-on disaster preparedness plan that includes important steps and instructions to follow in the event of a catastrophic event. It can also be helpful to have a short list of what to grab if a fire, flood, or other emergency strikes, so that your important documents aren’t left behind in the rush to evacuate.
  4. Stock up on staples: If the power goes out, a massive snowstorm hits, or some other natural disaster strikes, if you’ve got several days worth of nonperishable food and clean water on hand, as well as an emergency power supply (generator or battery backup), it may be possible to ride out an emergency event with minimal effects to your family. This emergency preparedness kit should also include a light source (flashlight and batteries, lantern, candles and matches), as well as a way to prepare food and sterilize water, such as a camp stove and fuel, plus the aforementioned first aid kit and items specific to your situation (baby stuff, feminine supplies, extra meds, pet food, etc.). A bug out bag, packed with everything necessary to survive for a few days in the event of a disaster, can be a key component of this kit, and should be stocked and easy to access at any time.
  5. Home security: Do a basic home security audit, looking at things such as your windows and door locks for possible weak points, checking the operation of outdoor security lighting, etc., and make a point of replacing or adding some security features to your home. Do a regular walkthrough every night before bed to make sure the home is secure, and teach your spouse and/or kids how to be security-conscious.
  6. Inventory your valuables: Keep a list (and a backup copy of that list) of your valuables, including photos and/or serial numbers, not just for your insurance company, but also for the local police department, in the event of a burglary.
  7. Install smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors: Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors can save lives, and while those annoying low battery beeps (or false positives) can be disturbing, the benefits of these devices far outweigh the negatives, and they’re affordable and simple to install.
  8. Make a will: While many of us, especially when we’re younger, aren’t thinking about something happening to us, if we died suddenly, it’s important to document what our wishes are, not only for our assets, but also for our kids. Consider who you would want as your children’s guardian in the event that both parents were to die, talk it over with that person, and have it written up and notarized in a format that would stand up to legal scrutiny. It’s not a pleasant thought, but it’s better to be prepared than to leave your family hanging after a death.
  9. Take out insurance and keep it up to date: We’re used to making sure we have auto insurance, and possibly home insurance, but if you have young kids or a mortgage that would be defaulted on without an adequate income or assets if we died, having life insurance can be a huge help. A Worcester insurance company can help customers in both Massachusetts and a variety of other states, and while it’s not essential to have all of your policies with the same firm, it can simplify things tremendously.
  10. Enroll in a self defense course: Basic self defense skills can go a long way toward not just keeping ourselves and our families safe, but also toward helping us feel safe and confident. And while adults may be the most obvious choice to take a self defense course, kids and teens can benefit from one as well.

The above tips for are just a few of the possible avenues for helping to protect our family and home, and while they may serve as a jumping-off point for home and family safety, every family should assess their own situation and come up with a plan that not only fits their needs, but is also realistic and achievable.

Image: Marcin Wichary

Derek Markham

Things I dig include: simple living, natural fatherhood, attachment parenting, natural building, unassisted childbirth (homebirth), bicycles, permaculture, organic and biodynamic gardening, vegan peanut butter cookies with chocolate chips, bouldering, and the blues. Find me elsewhere at @NaturalPapa, @DerekMarkham, Google+, or RebelMouse.

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