Sunday, March 23, 2014

It's a Matter of Preparing your Young Single Adult for Emergencies when they are away at School

Do you remember when you left home to begin your big adventure at school or your first 'grown-up' job?  Chances are, if you are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, that following your move you were a member of a Young-Single Adult (YSA) Ward. As you can see from the above picture, in my area, the YSA wards number in the hundreds.  

During this time of life, many are on their own for the first time.  They are trying to balance school, work, dating, friendships, church service...and just surviving it all.  As my husband and I serve in a YSA ward, we see so much goodness and potential in all of the YSA's.  Sometimes the balancing is not so graceful and course corrections are in order. 

With all that activity, do you think that preparedness and emergency plans are anywhere on the horizon?  I can tell you honestly, it is probably one of the furthest thoughts from their minds.  So, enter the Emergency Preparedness plan for each ward and Stake.

This is actually a photo that I took while in one of our student's apartments.  It is the Stake/Ward Emergency Preparedness plan.  But this is only one aspect.

There is actually a lot of planning that goes into the YSA Emergency Preparedness plan.  I will include some excerpts:

"Church guidance for YSA Stakes:  “ As stake presidents, we should counsel our members that while they do not need to accumulate food that would supply their long-term needs, they should have a short-term supply as recommended in the current pamphlet, All Is Safely Gathered In. You should feel free to counsel your members appropriately.  (Elder Osguthorpe memo to Stake Presidents, April 27, 2008)"
Does this sound familiar?

 Establish and maintain means of emergency communications.
A. Develop and maintain a communication plan that will enable:
(1) Members communicating with their respective ward leadership.

(2) Wards communicating with their respective Stake leadership.
(3) Stakes communicating with the University's Emergency Operations Center.
(4) Stakes communicating as needed with others outside the stake or wards.
B. Periodically test this communications system.
So, how do you test the "Communication System" in a YSA Ward and Stake? You have a drill!

In our Stake, a drill is held during Family Home Evening twice within a school year. This is announced ahead of time.  All members of the ward gather in one place (parking lot, volleyball court...some central location) at 7:00 at night. Each apartment number is called out by a member of the Ward Emergency Preparedness Committee. Those who reside in the apartment report who is currently on site, and the location of anyone who is not.  If they don't know where everyone is, these roommates are asked to text/call/contact to learn the location of everyone in their apartment. It sounds simple enough doesn't it?  Believe it or not, response is not quick. Sometimes the Bishopric calls as well.  The entire YSA ward stays until hopefully the location of everyone is known.  Then, the information is relayed to a Stake representative until the Stake President is informed about the whereabouts of his flock.  There are times when not all members can be found.  When this occurs, an action plan is put in place to help ensure this would not happen in the case of a real emergency. Frankly, this is why they have these drills. 

Then what?  A little training with a very captive audience.  Remember not all young adults are single.

Here are guidelines for personal preparation that are offered.  Notice that the YSA's are encouraged to have enough money on hand to get home.  Sometimes that may involve a tank of gas, however it often it involves a flight.

Personal Emergency Response Plan
Guidelines for Provo Utah YSA & Married Student Stakes
$ Keep at least one week's worth of groceries on hand at all times, along with food for emergencies (granola bars, etc.).
$ Keep at least a three-day supply of emergency water (one gallon per person per day).

$ Keep your car's gas tank at least half full at all times.
$ Have enough money available to get to your parents= home (if that is where you would go in case of a major emergency) or other place of retreat.
$ Have your cell phone programmed to call family and other important people in your life. Program an ICE (In Case of Emergency) number in your cell-phone directory.
$ Designate an out-of-area family member as a family-communication contact.
$ Keep your roommates/spouse apprised of your whereabouts.
$ Know about emergency information sources, including KSL AM 1160 and FM 102.7 and KBYU FM 89.1 and 89.5.  Remember that your car radio is a source for emergency information.
Other emergency items
$ Designate a place for meeting your roommates, or your spouse and children (right outside your home for emergencies such as fires, and outside your neighborhood if you can=t get home).
$ Be aware of your ward=s emergency response plan, especially the ward emergency-meeting locations.
$ Identify primary and alternate escape routes out of your home, and conduct drills with your family/roommates.
$ Keep all needed medications readily available (one-week supply).
$ Have items available for warmth in cold weather (coats, blankets, etc.)
$ Keep insurance policies (policy number and contact information) available, along with any other important documents, such as birth certificates and marriage licenses.
$ Learn what to do for the different hazards that could impact you or your family.  See General Emergency Guidelines at
$ Go to for more information.
11 August 2008
This next part seems Herculean for many young adults.  Again, they are often just learning how to live on their own and have traditionally relied on their parents to be mindful of emergency preparedness items.  Here are instructions on making a kit for emergencies (FYI, this would be a good outline for a parent to prepare a kit for their YSA to take with them).

Get A Kit You may need to survive on your own after an emergency. This means having your own food, water, and other supplies in sufficient quantity to last for at least three days. Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone immediately. You could get help in hours, or it might take days. In addition, basic services such as electricity, gas, water, sewage treatment, and telephones may be cut off for days, or even a week or longer.
Recommended Items to Include in a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
Flashlight and extra batteries
First aid kit
Whistle to signal for help
Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
Local maps
Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger
Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:
Prescription medications and glasses
Infant formula and diapers
Pet food and extra water for your pet
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
Cash or traveler's checks and change
Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container. You can use the EFFAK Emergency Financial First Aid Kit - PDF, 277Kb) developed by Operation Hope, FEMA and Citizen Corps to help you organize your information
Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from
Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
Fire Extinguisher
Matches in a waterproof container
Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
Paper and pencil
Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Find out how to keep food safe during and after and emergency by visiting: 

How do you end this informative Family Home Evening?  With fun, games, and food!  

Parents Take-Home Message:
  • Teach your children basic preparedness skills before they leave home. This includes how to cook from scratch, clean and how to do laundry.  You seriously handicap your child if they do not have these basic matter how many times they roll their eyes and complain.
  • Teach your children basic survival skills such as those listed above.  This is for their safety and also so that you can sleep at night while they are gone:)
  • Teach them to respond when members of their ward call or text them.  This is not only a courtesy, but in the case of an emergency it is a safety issue.  Too many YSA's do not respond when they are contacted by either peers or leadership.  Then, if they do respond, it may have been days since the initial contact. Also, teach them to look at their email.....regularly.  All communication does not come in the form of a text.  If some of the above information were to be sent as an attachment, honestly some of our YSA's would never see it even though they have email.
  • Teach them basic First Aid skills.
  • Teach them budgeting skills.  One of the requirements above was to have enough money to get home.  Some of our YSA's don't even know where they are going to get enough money to eat for the next week because they live in the present. This is only true for some of them.
  • Have an out-of-state person for them to contact in case of an emergency. I would recommend that you have this stipulated before they leave home.
Emergency Preparedness skills are necessary during all phases of life.  Please don't forget those folks who probably consider themselves to be exempt from having to even consider this important topic just because of their station in life.

Be Safe!

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