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10 Top Emergency Preparedness Tips for Natural Disasters

By Jarrod Heil

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Natural disasters can have catastrophic effects, striking in an instance and turning your entire world upside down. But there are certain ways to assure you’re properly prepared for the worst — and can keep your family safe during emergency situations.

The good thing about emergency preparedness tips is that they’re nearly universal, allowing you to apply each tip to nearly every single natural disaster that occurs in your area.

While preparation is key to staying safe during natural disasters, the wrong preparation does nobody any good. But these 10 top tips will help to keep you and your family safe during nearly every natural disaster that occurs in the United States.

Top 10 Emergency Preparedness Tips

1. Know Which Storms You May Be Hit by

Different areas of the United States can be hit by entirely different disasters. Florida and areas along the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean are prone to hurricanes, floods and even tornadoes. The Midwest is prone to tornadoes, floods, hail storms and winter storms. California is prone to wildfires and earthquakes.

No matter where you live, you should always be aware of the disasters that have occurred in your area. This will automatically put you a step ahead if a disaster does occur and directly affect you.

2. Learn Warning Signs and Alerts

There’s a huge difference between a watch and a warning. A storm watch is defined by the weather conditions in your area culminating to possibly brew the perfect storm. But watches don’t mean a disaster will occur. They just mean weather conditions are ripe for a disaster and you need to be prepared if one hits.

If you’re going to evacuate your area, doing so when a watch is issued is far better than waiting for a warning to be issued. By that time, it may be too dangerous to evacuate and staying put is the better option.

A storm warning, on the other hand, means that imminent danger is inevitable and a disaster will strike the area in which a warning is issued. That means you need to have your disaster preparedness kit ready to go and have a plan of action in place.

3. Create an Emergency Preparedness Kit

Creating an emergency preparedness checklist with everyday supplies and larger items will help you get through the disaster easier and healthier. From food and water to bandages and cleaning supplies, a disaster preparedness kit can help save your life.

4. Prepare an Evacuation Plan

Whether you’re preparing for a hurricane, flood, wildfire or another natural disaster, having a solid evacuation plan in place can be the difference between being stuck in your home through the disaster or safely getting to a predetermined location away from the disaster.

You’ll need to pick a safe destination to evacuate (family member, friend, hotel, etc.), then pick and plan your evacuation routes (keep in mind major highways and roads will be packed), and determine how long it will take to get to your destination.

5. Gas up Your Vehicles and Equipment

When disasters are on the horizon, people tend to panic a bit and continuously fill up their gas tanks right when they’re at a quarter tank. While that’s not a bad idea, you should be aware of how much gas you have in your vehicles and how much extra fuel you have at home for items like generators.

Gas stations tend to run out of fuel and long lines form at gas stations a few days before the disaster is set to hit. We recommend filling up your tanks a few days before the disaster and using your vehicle as minimally as possible.

6. Secure Outdoor Area

If you’re facing a disaster that includes high winds, make sure your outdoor items, furniture and lawn ornaments are safely secured inside, so the wind won’t blow them away. These items are easily picked up and thrown by the wind, creating heavy projectiles that can cause serious damage.

It’s also important to trim trees and bushes before a storm hits. Trimming them maintains you shave away any dead branches that may easily be ripped off and that no branches or limbs are hanging over your home that could cause damage to your roof or siding.

7. Know Where All Master Shut-Off Switches Are

One of the easiest tips on the list is to know where all your master shut-off valves and switches are located. This includes the water and gas shut-off valves and the master electricity shut-off switch.

It’s much easier to locate them and test their abilities before the storm when the world isn’t in a panic, so we recommend doing this well before storm season starts.

8. Communicate With Friends and Family

During a natural disaster, it’s more than likely cell phone towers will be affected, unable to telecommute calls and texts, and electricity will also be out.

This makes contacting friends and family nearly impossible, so it’s important to keep in contact with them until the moment the power goes out, and contact them again as soon as it comes back on.

9. Make a Recovery Plan

So many people put a lot of thought into their emergency preparedness checklist and plans, but they fail to think about the aftermath that may occur to them or their homes during disasters.

If your family is split up during a disaster, create a plan that includes either contact information or a designated meet-up spot. It’s important to understand your recovery options as well.

If your home has been damaged by the disaster, do you know how to properly file a home insurance claim? Do you know how FEMA could help you after a disaster? Figuring out what your options may be after a disaster can help the process go smoother so you don’t miss any step.

10. Stay Calm

Disasters tend to spread panic, and rightfully so. But imperative to stay calm in the face of disaster to ensure you’re properly going through the steps to keep you and your family safe. Remember, disasters happen. It’s how you prepare for and recover from them is what keeps you safe.