In the event of an emergency or disaster, being prepared isn’t just about handling your finances. If you live in an area that is susceptible to natural disasters, it’s also about making an emergency kit and taking other preventative steps that can help ensure your family and home's safety.
Your Home Checklist
If you are not in immediate danger, there are ways that you can secure your home to protect against the dangers of wildfires, flooding and even hurricane force winds. If you live in an area regularly affected by these types of natural disasters, consider:
- Installing and maintaining smoke detectors: Dual-sensor smoke alarms should be installed on each level of your home. Test your alarms regularly and replace the batteries twice a year – it could save your life.
- Maintaining your yard: Regularly cut weak branches and trees that could fall on your house and increase damage and routinely clear debris and vegetation to prevent these flammable items from catching fire.
- Testing your sump pump: A malfunction can cause flooding, so be sure to regularly check and remove any debris to prevent clogging.
- Inspecting your foundation and roof: Cracks in the foundation of a home could worsen flooding or plumbing issues. Regularly inspect your roof covering to make sure shingles are secured and if it’s time for a renovation, consider if upgrading to a Class A roof and non-combustible siding to improve your home's defense.
Your Emergency Kit
An emergency kit should have all the things that your household may need if you are forced to shelter in place or evacuate your home for an extended period. A great starting place for your emergency kit is putting together a checklist. Here are some of the basic items you will need to gather:
- Important documents: This should include but is not limited to birth certificates, photo ID, bank account information, insurance information and family photos.
- Food and water: Keep nonperishable, easy-to-prepare foods in a cool dry place. Twice a year you should replace your water supply and check food expiration dates.
- Medication: In case you can’t reach a pharmacy, you will want a supply of prescription medication and non-prescription medications on hand.
- First aid supplies: Fill your kit according to your households medical needs, this should include everything from Band-Aids to face coverings.
- Communication devices: Write down important contact numbers, pack a cellphone charger and a battery-powered radio.
- Hygiene: This includes hand sanitizer, garbage bags, wet wipes, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
- Flashlight: If you lose electricity, you’ll need a light source and extra batteries.
Emergency kits will vary based on your family’s individual needs. Once you have the basic items down, check out FEMA’s Emergency Supply List for a more extensive checklist.
It’s important to learn the types of disasters or emergencies that are likely occur in your area and take steps to mitigate that risk. Create and practice your emergency plan so your family will know what to do in times of crisis and learn the difference between weather alerts, such as watches and warnings, because when a major disaster occurs you want to be able to act immediately.