If this past year has taught us anything, it’s that natural disasters can hit anywhere, at any time. There’s no stopping the forces of nature, so the best thing we can do is to be prepared. While your family's emergency plan will be unique to you, there are a few general points that will help prepare you for success.
Sit down with everyone in your home and make a plan, taking into consideration daily schedules, pets, and transportation. Everyone should know their responsibilities and a variety of scenarios and meeting locations should be considered. Plan for everything from a house fire to a region-wide disaster. Make sure you’re included on local and regional emergency notification systems. Make a very short list of important items to be removed from the house, and compile a folder of vital documents.
Prepare evacuation bags and kits for grab-and-go situations. Include non-perishable food, medications, glasses/contacts, undergarments, toothbrushes, favorite/comfortable articles of clothing, flashlights, water, first aid kit, pet food, and small personal items.
Purchase a fire-proof safe for important documents and heirlooms. Take steps to protect your home for each season. Purchase sandbags, keep trees trimmed, dispose of, or maintain dry leaves and shrubs in the summer and fall months. If you have to leave your home, lock all doors and windows, and turn off gas, water, and electricity if possible.
Memorize pertinent phone numbers, including a point person out of the area that you can check in with. Make sure chargers are kept in evacuation bags as well as the car. Include a solar charger in your kit and be prepared in the event of long term loss of power.
Know what your insurance covers before you need it and make appropriate changes to the policy. Every six months take photos and video of everything in the home. From the garage to the attic, open drawers, cabinets and closets to document all personal belongings.