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Flooded neighborhood from above

How to Prepare for a Natural Disaster

A Natural Disaster Doesn’t Have to Catch You Off-Guard

In many areas of the country, a hurricane, forest fire or tornado could strike unexpectedly, making it necessary for residents to evacuate to a safer environment. Even if you don’t live in an area where these events are expected, you never know when a natural disaster could occur, so it pays to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.

With a little planning, you and your loved ones can leave for safer surroundings and experience a less stressful recovery once you are able to return home. The following are some tips to help you be ready in the event of a natural disaster.

Think About Your Natural Disaster Recovery Plan

If you must leave your property due to a disaster, you have to be prepared for the worse when you return. Your home may be damaged beyond repair. Flood waters can ruin your belongings and encourage the growth of mold. Rodents and other wildlife may take up residence in what’s left of your home.

Even if your property has minimal damage, you may not have electricity or water for several weeks. You should have a natural disaster recovery plan in the event that you return to a home that is not safe.

Determine If You Have Natural Disaster Insurance

If you are like many homeowners, you may not be fully aware of what your home insurance covers. Did you know that the typical home insurance policy does not cover events such as floods as the result of a hurricane or damage from forest fires or from a tornado? Don’t wait until you are faced with damage to find out what’s covered under your policy.

Review your insurance policy with your insurance agent to determine if you need natural disaster insurance.

Preparing for Evacuation: What to Take with You

When you are faced with natural disaster evacuation, it’s hard to know what to take with you. No matter where you wait it out, you need some basic natural disaster supplies for personal comfort. Shelters may have limited supplies. Some of the items you will find useful include:

  • Non-perishable snacks and food for three days.
  • Bottled water equivalent to a gallon per person per day.
  • Hand sanitizer and wipes.
  • Flashlights and batteries.
  • Cell phone with a charger and an extra battery.
  • Battery-powered radio.
  • Manual can opener.
  • First-aid kit.

Other useful items for a shelter stay include paper towels, toilet paper, plastic trash bags, blankets and pillow. Additionally, make sure you have at least a three day supply of prescription medications, baby care items, food for your pet and a list of contact numbers for friends and family.

You should also find a secure place for your insurance policies and other important papers, because you may need them to apply for public assistance or benefits.

Have a Plan for Your Pets

If you have a small pet, you may be able to take it with you if you must evacuate. Planning for a natural disaster and pet care needs should be at the forefront of your thinking. Shelters may not have accommodations for pets.

You don’t have to wait for a disaster to get information about natural disaster resources for your pets or other animals. If you have large farm animals, your local agricultural extension office can offer guidance in keeping those animals safe.

Your local animal shelter or humane society can provide suggestions regarding natural disaster resources and shelters for pets that you cannot take with you.

Hopefully, you will never experience the full effects of a natural disaster. However, it helps to be aware of natural disaster resources and steps you can take that may lessen the impact.