Disaster Preparedness – Are You Ready?

Although we can’t prevent a natural disaster, preparing for emergencies ahead of time can ensure the safety of your family and help reduce damage to your property. Here are some ways you can prepare for a disaster:

Create an Emergency Plan

Make sure your family knows what to do during an emergency.

  • Designate an emergency meeting spot and practice drills.
  • Teach all adult and teen family members how to shut off electrical, gas and water utilities.
  • Learn emergency evacuation routes.
  • Know the warning signals and alerts for your area.
  • Purchase a weather radio and/or download weather apps to stay informed of weather conditions.
  • Make a plan for pets. Consider a microchip implant, and make sure your contact information is up-to-date.

FEMA has put together a Family Emergency Plan template. Print it out, and make disaster preparedness a family activity.

Build A Survival Kit

When disaster strikes, you may need to evacuate with very little notice. If you are stranded at home, emergency officials will be on the way to help, but they may not be able to reach you immediately. It is important to prepare both evacuation and at-home emergency kits. At minimum, each survival kit should contain the following items:

  • Water (1 gallon per person, per day)
  • Non-perishable food
  • Weather Radio
  • Flashlight
  • Batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Medications
  • Blankets or sleeping bags
  • Multi-purpose tool
  • Manual can opener
  • Medication list and important medical information
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, carrier, food, bowl)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Extra clothing

Stock your kit with enough food, water and other essentials to last for at least 72 hours for evacuations. When preparing your at-home survival kit, be sure to maintain a 2-week supply of all items.

You should also consider making copies of the following documents to keep in each kit:

  • Medication list
  • Health records
  • Proof of address
  • Passports/birth certificates
  • Insurance policies
  • Deed/lease to home

For additional information about building an emergency kit, visit RedCross.org.

Protect Your Family and Property From Hurricanes

Hurricane season takes place from June 1 to September 30, usually peaking in late August through September. Hurricane hazards include heavy rainfall, flooding, high winds and even tornadoes. While hurricanes cannot be prevented, the following procedures can keep your family safe and reduce damage to your property.

  • Close your windows, doors, and hurricane shutters. If you do not have hurricane shutters, use ¾ inch outdoor plywood boards for each window and door of your home.
  • Shut off all utilities (gas, electricity, water).
  • Unplug small appliances.
  • Bring in anything that can become airborne in high winds (bikes, patio furniture, flower pots).
  • Make sure your yard is free of any trees or landscaping that could become wind hazards during a storm.
  • Turn your refrigerator and freezer to the coldest setting, and keep them closed so that food stays fresh longer if the power goes out.
  • Do not use grills or store propane tanks inside the house or garage.

Review our Flood Safety section to learn what to do in the event of a flood.

Know Where to Take Shelter From Tornadoes

While most tornadoes occur in the Tornado Alley region, they can occur nearly anywhere at any time. Tornadoes can strike quickly, with little or no warning, and can accompany thunderstorms, tropical storms, and hurricanes. Peak tornado season in the southern states is March through May.

Tornado danger signs include:

  • Dark, sometimes greenish sky
  • Large hail
  • Loud, continuous roar or rumble
  • Low-lying clouds with a rotating base

If you see a tornado or any of the danger signs, take shelter immediately.
Review FEMA’s advice for shelter.

Review Your Insurance Policy

Make sure your property is adequately protected. Once a year, contact your agent to review your insurance policy. If you have made any recent purchases or renovated your property, you may need to adjust your coverage.

Additional Disaster Preparedness Resources

Visit our Severe Weather Resources section for information about government organizations, locating family members after a disaster and avoiding scams.