Preparing for an Emergency

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As of July 2017, there have been nine weather and climatedisaster events this year with losses totaling more than $1 billionin the U.S. alone. More than 80% of Americans live in countiesthat have experienced a weather-related disaster. However,only 39% of Americans have created an emergency plan fortheir households. While it’s almost impossible to predictwhen an emergency or natural disaster will occur, creatinga plan may help keep your family safe in the event of one.The better prepared you are, the more comfortable you’llbe if you have to put your plan into action. 

Know the Risks

No matter where you live, your region may be susceptibleto one or more emergency situations or weather hazards,including: earthquakes, wildfires, flooding, tornadoes,hurricanes or blizzards. Although some of these events—like hurricanes—may provide some advanced warning,others—like earthquakes—are hard to predict. Most of theseoccurrences may lead to extended power outages; however,if you live in an area where they are likely, having a plan willhelp you prepare for the next event.

Other emergencies can happen at any time, such as a houseor building fire. Common causes include faulty appliances,electrical components and smoking. In fact, cookingequipment was the cause of 46% of home structure firesfrom 2010-2014.

Decide on an Emergency Meeting Place

Emergency situations are chaotic. In the midst of the confusion,it can be difficult to get in touch with loved ones. Decide ona meeting place with your family ahead of time to reducesome of the initial stress. Choose three locations: one in theneighborhood, one in your town and one out-of-town, andmake sure everyone knows how to get there. Your safe areamay vary depending on the emergency—for example, in theevent of a tornado or hurricane, stay away from windows andtake cover in an interior room of your home or building, onthe lowest floor

Make a Plan

Make a plan that outlines all the information you’ll need toknow in the event of an emergency. Not only will it help youget to a safe location, it’ll also allow you to let your loved onesknow you’re safe. Visit www.ready.gov/make-a-plan to download an emergencyplan template you can tailor to your family’s needs.

  1. Create a spreadsheet than includes:
    • Names and nicknames of each family member
    • Phone numbers
    • Email addresses
    • Names of doctors
    • Places of work
    • Schools

  2. Plan a safe evacuation route.

    • If you’re home when an emergencyoccurs, you may have to evacuate withlittle to no notice. Select several safeevacuation routes, and make sureeveryone is familiar with them

  3. Assign roles.

    • Have someone turn off the utilities, likewater and electricity, while another personpacks the important documents and anothergrabs pets. Giving everyone a responsibilitywill ensure nothing important is left behind.

Collect Important Documents

Organize important documents in one place—such as anaccordion folder or fireproof safe—so you can easily grabthem in case of an emergency. Sort them into categories:personal documents, financial, home, insurance, taxes,health/medical and employment. Also, keep any flashdrives, removable hard drives or other storage media inthe same location.

Practice

Now that you have a plan, be sure to review and practiceit with your family regularly. The more familiar you are withyour plan, the more prepared you’ll be in the event of anemergency. And, the more prepared you are, the saferyou’ll be.

Stay Connected

Know what to do when disaster strikes! Sign up for textalerts from your local emergency services to receivewarnings and other up-to-date hazard information. Also,download weather apps to your smartphone to stay ontop of dangerous weather-related activity.

If you find yourself in an emergency situation, send a text to your family to let them know you are safe. Texts are more likely to get through than busy lines.