Know the Risks
How much do you really know about the area you live in? To be truly prepared for natural disasters, you need to assess the likelihood of threat. For example, do you live on a natural fault line? Are wildfires commonplace? Is your home prone to flooding? Knowledge is your first defense.
Turn On Alerts
Make sure your smartphone alerts are switched on so you can receive Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs). Next, download the FEMA app for real-time alerts from the National Weather Service along with emergency preparedness tips and the locations of emergency shelters and disaster recovery centers in your area.
Natural disasters can destroy important documents, family photos, and other precious mementos. Get started now scanning and digitizing vital paperwork and items of sentimental value, then be sure to keep backups of these documents saved and encrypted online.
While some natural disasters—for instance, tornadoes and hurricanes—may be covered by homeowners insurance, others, like earthquakes and flooding, are not, especially if your home is located in a risk-prone area. Check your policy: You may have to purchase supplemental insurance for natural disasters.
Build a Kit (or Two)!
Do you have food, water, and other supplies to last at least 72 hours? Print out this helpful list, courtesy of Ready.gov, the government’s information hub for disaster preparedness, then pull together your family's kit. It's a good idea to have one kit at home and another one in your vehicle.
Start an Emergency Fund
It's essential to put aside some savings to help you during and after a crisis. But there's much more to financial preparedness than an emergency fund. Check out the Emergency Financial First Aid Kit from FEMA for checklists of important financial and legal documentation you'll need in the wake of a disaster, as well as tips for organizing and safeguarding this vital information.
Disaster-Proof Your House
To survive a natural disaster, you need to prepare your home in advance. If you live in a hurricane- or tornado-prone area, seal all openings and look into roof upgrades. You may also want to investigate FEMA-approved specifications for building a safe room.
Learn How to Help
After a natural disaster, it may take a while for first responders to reach you. Until Help Arrives is a five-step response program, developed by FEMA, that teaches you what you can do to save lives before the EMTs get there. After you've worked your way through the program, learn the hands-only CPR technique in a video produced by the American Heart Association.
Take a Home Inventory
It's crucial to maintain accurate records of your household possessions, and it's never been easier to do. Free apps like Encircle and Sortly help you make a home inventory and keep an up-to-date digital record of important documents, valuable possessions, routine home maintenance, and renovation plans. Another platform to check out is HouseMaster Cloud, an online home management tool.
When you're preparing for disaster, mental strength, inner kindness, and resilience can be just as important as physical precautions. Natural disasters—and even the threat of danger—trigger our worst fears and can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions. To keep everyone calm, safe, and working together, know how to take care of yourself and your loved ones.
Being ready means you can sleep easier at night.
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