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September is National Preparedness Month, reminding us all to prepare for disasters, whether they’re weather-related (storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, or floods) or human-created (acts of terrorism, wildfires or collisions). All require planning and action to withstand them safely.
There are several steps you can take now to better prepare for any disaster.
Document and Insure Property
Having insurance for your home or business property is the best way to ensure that you can repair, rebuild or replace whatever is damaged.
Make sure you understand your coverage. Coverages to consider include the dwelling and personal property; loss-of-use compensation for temporary relocation; personal liability; and medical protection for anyone injured on your property.
A detailed inventory of belongings can speed claim processing. Take photos and write down descriptions, including years, makes and model numbers.
Create and Test Communication Plans
Your family might not be all together if a disaster strikes, so take steps to form an emergency communication plan:
1. Equip household members to receive emergency alerts. Check with local emergency management or learn more by visiting ready.gov/alerts.
2. Choose a safe and familiar (and, if necessary, accessible and/or animal-friendly) emergency meeting place, where your family can go for protection or to reunite.
3. Create a paper copy of contact information that includes names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses of family members, medical facilities, doctors, service providers, schools and workplaces. Make sure everyone carries a copy, and post a copy in your home.
4. Have regular household meetings to review plans and travel routes—and then practice, just like a fire drill.
Access Alerts and Warnings
Local police and fire departments, emergency managers, national agencies and private industry work together to provide alerts through several technologies. Most disaster-related apps can be downloaded to mobile devices for free.
Choose any of these apps or services:
The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System provides nationwide notifications for presidential, Amber Alerts and imminent threats.
NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards notifies the public about weather events, technological incidents such as chemical spills, Amber Alerts and national emergencies.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency app offers emergency updates, methods for staying safe from 20 types of hazards and directions to open shelters.
The American Red Cross app combines 35 types of weather and emergency alerts and lets you check to see if loved ones are safe.
Keep vital information in a secure, convenient location.
Include your insurance company’s contact info with your policy numbers and claim-filing instructions. Store paper copies in a waterproof and fireproof box or safe. Secure electronic copies with strong passwords and save them on a flash or external hard drive in another, similar container. Leave copies with trusted relatives or friends.
Assemble or Update Supplies
Assemble a disaster supplies kit well in advance. Collect enough food and water to last at least 72 hours, and include communications, hygiene and first-aid supplies. Basic services such as electricity, gas, water and telephones may be cut off for days or even longer. Your supplies kit should contain items to help you manage during these outages. Visit ready.gov/kit to see a list of emergency kit supplies.