September is National Preparedness Month. As the threat of a natural disaster continues to increase, it becomes more and more important to properly prepare every year. Whether it’s a forest fire out west or a devastating hurricane along the east coast, a disaster could affect anybody at any time.
This year's National Preparedness Month theme is "Take Control in 1, 2, 3." This theme breaks down preparing for a natural disaster in just three easy steps:
1. Assess Your Needs:
It's crucial to know which disasters are most likely to affect you. Preparedness looks different for a hurricane than it does for a blizzard, but the basics are always the same:
- Be ready to leave if needed - Prepare a go-bag in case of an emergency evacuation.
- Stay informed - Opt-in to alerts from the National Weather Service by downloading the FEMA app.
- Prep your home - Whether you're boarding doors and windows or stocking up on extra firewood, it's important to prepare and protect your home. If you have a generator, make sure that it runs properly and is fueled up for the season.
2. Make a Plan:
For step #2, it's important to know what you and your family (and the furry ones, too!) need to do in order to get yourself to safety.
- Know your evacuation zones - Learn where you will go if disaster strikes and consider how your small children and pets might affect your evacuation plan. View your evacuation routes on Ready.gov.
- Collect supplies - On top of the traditional bottled water and canned foods, you might need extra medicine, food for pets, and cleaning supplies.
- Review essential documents - Ensure personal documents like IDs and Birth Certificates are up-to-date and copies are made and stored in a safe, weatherproof space, like a plastic container or sealed bag.
3. Engage Your Support Network:
- Reach out to friends, family, and neighbors - Make sure they know your preparedness plan, and how they can help in case of an emergency.
- Develop a communication plan - In the event that a disaster happens, having a communication plan can give you peace of mind knowing you have all your important contact information in one place. You can begin developing your communication plan with the help of Ready.gov.
- Help your community prepare - If you're able, it's great to give back and help protect others in your community who may not be able to help themselves.
While the fundamentals of disaster preparedness are similar, the details of home protection and insurance can change drastically depending on the type of disaster you experience. For example, homeowners insurance often doesn't cover damages caused by water during hurricanes and floods, but it would cover the water damage from a burst pipe during a cold winter. It’s essential to sit down with your insurance advisor to learn the scope of your policy. From there, you can make the necessary adjustments to ensure you have the coverage you need.
This National Preparedness Month, "Take control in 1, 2, 3" and ensure your home and family are protected. For more details on preparedness for different disasters, visit Ready.gov.