Your home is your family’s safe haven, and you’ve taken steps to keep it that way. You’ve installed a home security system, taught your children not to open the door for strangers, and made a point to meet your neighbors. But what about the threats you can’t prevent?
Natural disasters can hit anytime and anywhere. To protect your family in a natural disaster like a flood, fire, or earthquake, you need to respond quickly. Creating an emergency response plan before disaster strikes is the best way to make sure you and your family know what to do and where to go in a dangerous situation.
Know when disaster strikes
The sooner you learn about a natural disaster, the more time you have to react. Sign up for severe weather alerts so you know when a storm is on the way.
Make your home safer
Home improvements reduce risk to your home and family when a natural disaster hits. Take these steps to prepare your house:
- Check your homeowner’s insurance to understand what’s covered. Consider a standalone flood insurance policy if your homeowners insurance doesn't cover flooding.
- Keep your home well-maintained, especially the roof, foundation, and other components that protect your house from the elements.
- Know how to shut off water, gas, and electric to your home.
- Protect against high winds by trimming tree limbs near buildings and power lines. Don’t DIY this dangerous job -- it’s worth the cost to outsource this. You can hire a professional tree trimming service in Las Vegas for $194-$541, though costs vary.
- Identify a safe room for sheltering in place. This should be an interior room without windows on the lowest floor.
Create an emergency kit
You won’t have time to gather supplies when a natural disaster is heading for your home. That’s why you need an emergency kit. An emergency kit is a bag of supplies you can grab before evacuating or take to your safe room for sheltering-in-place. These are the supplies that should be in every emergency kit:
- Three-day supply of food and water for each family member
- Extra batteries
- Battery-powered or hand-crank radio
- First aid kit
- Cell phones and chargers
- Dust masks
- Trash bags and duct tape
- Manual can opener
- Sanitation items
Ready.gov lists more items to include in your family’s emergency kit.
Practice your emergency response plan
Now that everything is in place, you’re ready to develop your family’s emergency response plan. An emergency plan should lay out what every family member needs to do in an emergency whether they’re at home, school, work, or elsewhere. The plan should address where to evacuate in different types of emergencies, how to shelter-in-place, and what to do if you’re separated in a disaster.
Once you have a plan, role play emergency scenarios as a family and revisit your emergency plan every few months. Regular practice is the best way to ensure kids remember what to do in the midst of a natural disaster.
Plan for pets
If you have pets, make sure your emergency plan includes them too. Losing a family pet adds pain to an already difficult situation, but with good planning, you won’t have to leave pets behind. Include pet supplies in your emergency kit, including vaccination records and a pet carrier, and identify evacuation locations that accept both you and your pets. If a disaster happens while you’re away from home, find a neighbor willing to be your pet’s emergency caretaker. Update your pet’s ID tags and microchip information so that if you are separated in a disaster you have a higher chance of being reunited.
When a natural disaster hits, you need to take action to keep your family safe. But if you’ve never planned what to do in an emergency, you won’t be able to think straight in the chaos of a natural disaster. By preparing your home and practicing an emergency response plan before a natural disaster is on the horizon, you can act decisively and stay safe when severe weather hits.Article By Burt Sims