Remember the blizzard of 2014 when nearly 12 inches of snow fell in less than 24 hours, and grounded many people to their homes? For nearly a week, time stood still, some lost power and we learned about being prepared.
It’s true that disasters don’t happen everyday, but given Indiana’s seasonal climate, it’s not impossible to experience flooding, tornados and even massive snowstorms like the blizzard of 2014. Therefore, being prepared pays.
September is National Disaster Preparedness Month, and a good time to share our five tips for preparing your family and home for disasters. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but we hope these tips will get you thinking about what’s most important when it comes to protecting your most valuable assets.
Develop your plan, know the risks
Your first goal in disaster preparedness includes making a plan, developing roles and responsibilities for each family member, and not forgetting pets. It’s also a great time to check your insurance policy, and have home maintenance completed. However, perhaps the most important step is taking action. The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes features a disaster risk map that can identify the most likely perils for your state.
Identify vulnerability, make home improvements
When disaster strikes, you want to ensure your home is airtight. After all, a safe home not only decreases vulnerabilities and saves money, but it also protects against the unthinkable.
It’s easy to assume nothing will happen, but disasters such as floods, tornados and snowstorms that are common in Indiana can quickly become a nightmare. Consequently, we always recommend a home assessment, and making improvements before it’s too late. Consider installing storm doors and shutters, building a safe room or inspecting to your roof. As well, it’s always wise to devise a plan for what might happen should you lose power. For instance, do you have a back-up generator? Enough water? Batteries? Given Indiana’s seasons, these small, yet mighty protections could be safeguarding you and your family against possible property damage.
Make a kit
Being prepared, and ensuring your family’s safety is essential. This means along with developing an emergency plan, you also should organize a kit consisting of water, food, medicines and first aid, a battery-powered or hand-cranking radio, extra batteries, a flashlight, whistle, cellphone and cash. Although this is a basic list, additional items to include can be found on Ready.gov. We cannot stress the importance of being proactive.
Create an inventory, be organized
Although it seems tedious, taking inventory and making a catalog of your personal property is necessary. Think of it this way: When a disaster of any kind strikes, you want to establish normalcy. This critical step could help in getting fair insurance reimbursements and simplifying the recovery process. Also, if disaster aid is needed, your catalog will make your application process seamless.
Practice makes perfect
Our final step includes implementing your emergency plan with a simulation exercise. By this, we mean addressing emergency communications, planning your exit strategy, and determining how to turn off utilities. Addressing these tasks not only identifies weak areas, but it’s also helpful in starting conversations about disaster preparedness.
When it comes to preparing your home and family for a disaster, being informed, prepared and proactive goes a long way in weathering the so-called storm. Disaster preparation takes time, and it’s true that plans don’t materialize overnight. But, taking initiative now during the calm before can offer you peace of mind later. Don’t wait. Act now.
For more tips on preparing your family and home for disasters, visit the American Red Cross and the Centers For Disease Control.