No one can prevent natural disasters. But you can prepare for one. Being ready for a catastrophe before it happens may help to protect yourself, your family and your home.
Create a plan with your family, figuring out what to do in the event of a disaster. Where should you meet? Who’s responsible for the dog? Make sure everyone knows the plan – then have drills, practicing so they’re comfortable with who does what.
Prepare for a natural disaster
- Sign up for severe weather alerts in your area.
- Program emergency numbers into your phone.
- Decide on a meeting place for your family to gather.
- Plan escape routes from your home and neighborhood. Remember, roads could be blocked in large-scale disasters – so have at least one alternate route.
- Be sure all adult and teenage family members know how to shut off gas, electric and water lines if there's a leak or electrical short. Keep the tools close by.
- Consider cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid training.
- Remember your pets. Bring dogs and cats inside during a catastrophe, and make sure they have ID tags.
Create an emergency kit
Having an emergency kit on hand may help you keep your family safe during a disaster. Keep emergency supplies in a large waterproof container near a door or in your garage, so you can grab it and find shelter quickly.
Good items for a disaster kit:
- A three-day supply of drinking water (one gallon per person, per day)
- Nonperishable food, such as canned fruit and protein bars
- Manual can opener
- Flashlights or portable lanterns, and extra batteries
- Dry clothing and blankets
- First aid kit, with waterproof matches
- A crank- or battery-powered radio
- Sanitation supplies: toilet paper, moist towelettes, soap, trash bags and disinfectant
Depending on your situation, a kit could also include:
- Baby food, bottles and diapers
- Pet food
- Prescription medications
- Extra eyeglasses or contact lens solution
- Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
Create an emergency savings fund
A natural disaster may damage your home, but it doesn’t have to destroy your finances too. Having an emergency fund may help you avoid going into debt or dipping into retirement savings after a disaster.
Help kids plan for and cope with disasters
Protecting your family from natural disasters includes preparing them for what could happen and how to react. So, take time to talk to your children about:
- The family’s disaster plan – such as where they should meet in case of an emergency
- Best routes out of the house or neighborhood
- Who to call if they’re separated from Mom and Dad
- What happens if a disaster occurs while they're away from home, or at school
- Where they should go during a disaster – neighbors, relatives, a friend’s home?
- Any role they may have in an emergency – like leashing the dog or helping Mom with younger siblings
Here’s some specific information about various types of natural disasters: