It’s been said many times and many ways: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. While you can’t stop a natural disaster from occurring, you can take steps now to prepare and protect yourself and family when a natural disaster strikes.
We've compiled some action steps to guide you through.
- Make an Emergency Action Plan. Discuss and compile a list of the important phone numbers, addresses, and information needed when a disaster happens, and keep them in different places that are safe and easily found. Make a home inventory of items. Focus on exit routes from your home and your area, how to get to a safe place, any areas of concern to avoid, and what is truly needed when you evacuate. Make a plan for proper care of older adults, younger children, and pets. Print and save important documents (insurance, utility contacts, banking information, etc.). Have a contingent housing plan away from the disaster.
- Stock up on emergency supplies in your home and in your car. Have emergency non-perishable food, water, blankets, clothes, and medicine supplies ready to go early and before the event. Buy extra batteries, and have emergency phone chargers and back-up battery or solar power chargers available and ready to go. Have flashlights and an emergency radio available, and consider investing in an emergency generator and some extra fuel. Fill clean water containers with drinking water, and fill tubs and sinks with water for washing.
- Prepare your property. Put up storm shutters or plywood to protect windows from breaking, and secure loose items inside or in a shelter. Remove items that could blow around during a storm and damage your home. Move important documents, items, and pictures from the floor and store them higher on a shelf or make other arrangements for quick storage away from the property. If you leave, be sure to lock all windows and doors.
- Turn off the power. Water and electricity mixing can be deadly. If you see downed power lines, leave your home immediately and call the utility company for assistance. If the power is off, and it's safe, unplug your electronics and other electric devices to reduce risk of electrocution, fire, or damage from a power surge.
- Always listen to authorities and follow designated evacuation routes. Other routes may be flooded, blocked, or damaged. Never drive through a flooded area as cars in as little as six inches of moving water can be swept away or stall. Flash Floods can easily flood a low-lying area and become deadly.
- If you stay at home, stay alert and away from windows. Listen to a radio or TV for updates. Stay inside, even if it looks calm, until you receive an official message that the hurricane and danger is over. Be careful of branches, awnings, or other hazards from above that may no longer be secure. If your home is damaged by the storm and uninhabitable, be prepared to leave to go to a shelter or a neighbor’s house. Call the police, fire department, the hospital, or the public health department if help is needed. Never use propane, charcoal, or wood-burning pits or grills inside a house or garage. Do not wade in flood water, as standing water can have dangerous pathogens, chemicals, waste, and wildlife in it.
- Keep all receipts associated with the storm evacuation or damage repair. This includes temporary repairs, temporary lodging, and food in case your home is damaged and rendered uninhabitable or is destroyed. Your property insurance coverage may be able to reimburse you for some or all of the related expenses or they may be tax-deductible.
- Try to be patient and calm. As the saying goes, plan your work and work your plan. Be prepared for any contingencies. As Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”