Hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and earthquakes: Are you prepared?

Meghan Martinez
Meghan Martinez
Published on April 1, 2019

Hurricane season in 2018 was brutal. We saw eight hurricanes, with Florence and Michael producing the most significant damage.

Hurricane season this year begins on June 1.

Last month, California’s governor, Gavin Newsom, declared a state of emergency in preparation for the 2019 wildfire season. The declaration allows him to waive environmental restrictions “to speed up fire prevention projects …” according to CBS Los Angeles.

Notice the key concept in that announcement: Preparation.

With a couple of months’ lead time, even the most unprepared homeowner can take steps to keeping his or her family and home safe during natural disasters.

Family first

We’ve all seen the news reports about people who wait until the last minute to stock up on supplies when a killer storm is expected. Don’t be one of them, facing picked over hardware items and empty shelves at the grocery store.

First, make a plan. Questions to have the answers to include:

How will we contact one another?

It is especially important for children to know the plan in case of an emergency. Designate one adult family member to be the designated contact. Ready.gov recommends choosing someone who lives out of town in case cell service is down in your area.

Write down the contact’s phone number and a reminder of the meeting spots and keep it in your child’s school bag. Cell phones may not be working

Where will we meet?

If your children are older, pick a meeting spot that’s close to home and an alternative spot that is outside the neighborhood in case roads are blocked.

If we have to evacuate, what is the best route?

Plan your route before disaster strikes. Figure out where you can go if evacuation is ordered. Think friends, family members or a hotel. The experts at Ready.gov suggest that you “Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.”

Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.

Always keep enough fuel in your car to get to your destination.

Do you have emergency supplies set aside? You’ll need a lot more than water if the power is out for any length of time. Find a list of what to set aside for emergencies at Fema.gov.

Keep an emergency survival kit in the trunk of your automobile (especially if you live where earthquakes occur). Include, at the very minimum a portable radio, cell phone charger, matches, flashlights and batteries, blankets, extra shoes and socks in case you need to walk to your destination and drinking water.

You’ll find a list of other items to include at Almanac.com and on the National Safety Council’s website.

Don’t forget the pets

Although many Americans consider their pets as part of the family, they’re frequently left off the to-do list when considering prepping for the expected or unexpected that nature throws our way.

So, we’ve compiled that list for you and your pets:

  • Ensure that each of your pets is microchipped. Then, if a hurricane or other natural disaster is expected, ensure that they’re wearing collars with up-to-date identification tags firmly attached to the collars.
  • Don’t leave your pets behind if you need to evacuate. Have a plan on where you will take them before finding shelter for yourself. Ideas may include hotels that allow pets, boarding facilities outside of the danger zone, a friend or relative’s home, also outside the danger zone.
  • Keep a pet emergency kit. You can buy them online or create your own. TheSeniorDog.com has a brilliant list of items you’ll need in your kit.

Get more tips at ASPCA.org.

Items you’ll need for an insurance claim

Do you have an inventory of all of your belongings? If not, get that done now, before hurricane and wildfire seasons arrive. Photographs or video are ideal ways of cataloging your belongings. Be sure to include purchase dates and places and serial numbers.

If you need help visit the Insurance Information Institute’s website.

Then, keep copies of other important documents such as your driver’s license, insurance paperwork, bank account numbers, the deed to your home or your mortgage company’s contact information, vital statistics documents (birth, marriage, citizenship or Green Card).

Go to Fema.gov for more information on how to protect important documents and which ones you may need during and after a disaster.

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