September marks National Preparedness Month, and it serves as a helpful reminder of the importance to prepare for emergencies. Making a family disaster plan is often an overlooked task. You may never need to use your plan, but when disaster strikes, you’ll be glad you’re ready.
Think about bad weather we’ve had in the past – when major storms have been predicted for the East Coast, often there is neither bottled water nor batteries to be found in stores the day prior to the storm. If your area is at risk for other hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes, you may have little or no warning of their arrival.
Preparing your home and family for a hurricane could be different than preparing for a snowstorm. But it’s important to keep in mind that in the event of a disaster, you may be on your own without electricity, gas, water or telephone service for several days. To help you be ready when the next unexpected event happens, we’ve put together a general action checklist.
- Designate an “out of town” contact. In the disaster area, local phone service may be interrupted. It may be easier to get a call through to a designated person out of town to let them know your location and that you’re safe.
- Have a family communication plan. Make sure each person knows the phone number of the “out of town” contact. Teach your children how to call an emergency response team and when it’s appropriate to call them.
- Review your insurance coverage. Talk to your insurance agent about your policy and be sure you have adequate coverage.
- Assemble a supplies kit. Keep a three-day supply of water (one gallon per person, per day), nonperishable food, manual can opener, flashlight and batteries, first aid kit, cash and coins, portable, battery-powered radio, pet supplies, prescription medicines and any other items to meet your unique family needs.
- Inventory your home possessions. Take pictures or a video and keep a record of your home’s contents. Store the information in a flood- and fire-safe place.
- Safeguard personal documents. Keep all of your important records safely stored, including birth and marriage certificates, passports, social security cards, financial, insurance, immunization records, wills and trusts.
- Check your smoke alarms. Each level of your home should have a working smoke alarm. Consider installing a carbon monoxide detector also.
- Purchase fire extinguishers. Keep a fire extinguisher on each floor of your home and make sure everyone knows where they are located and how to use them.
Since you and your family members may not be together during an emergency, it’s important to take time to discuss the plan ahead of time. To read more about how to prepare, visit Ready.gov.