Last year we experienced the devastation from hurricanes Harvey and Irma. This year, lives have been lost, and homes and property destroyed by Maria, Florence and now hurricane Michael. Not only have hurricanes been the culprit for devastation, but other disasters like the Mount Kilauea eruption, the wild fires in California, extreme rains and thunderstorms in the mid-west have all endangered our personal safety, our homes, property and businesses.
So with all these disasters happening around us, how can we keep ourselves and our families safe?
Experts say the best thing you can do is prepare. Don’t get caught off-guard. Make a plan and establish where you will go, how you will get there and how you will contact your family members when a disaster strikes. Then practice your plan with your family. Decide who will do what tasks and don’t forget to include your pets in the planning.
Should you be unfortunate to be caught in a catastrophic situation, follow these guidelines:
- Listen to weather alerts and safety instructions;
- Learn your evacuation zone and have a plan;
- Learn skills you might need to help yourself or others until emergency responders arrive;
- Check on your neighbors;
- Have at least a 1 week supply of needed medications;
- Keep cash on hand or have an emergency account that can be accessed in a crisis; Make digital copies of important records and documents;
- Watch for frauds and scams when seeking disaster assistance. Federal and state workers never ask for or accept money and always carry an ID. And protect your identity by keeping your personal information secure.
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) puts out helpful information about being prepared for all types of disasters and provides tool kits for you and your family. Visit www.ready.gov for more information.
In addition to having a plan, and the supplies and materials to keep you and your family safe, you should also consider the importance of being able to access important documents and information that may be critical following a disaster. Having access to personal financial, insurance, medical, and other records is crucial for starting the process of recovery quickly and efficiently. Experts suggest copying and storing this information in the cloud so it can be accessed quickly in the event of an emergency. By doing this, you’ll have your insurance and other documentation needed to start the recovery process without delay.
We cannot change what the forces of nature will bring, but being prepared and planning ahead of time, may make the difference in keeping you and your family safe and may make the difference in how fast the rebuilding process can be.
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