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September is National Preparedness Month, and there’s no better time to make a disaster preparedness plan or review yours if you already have one in place. While you may have advance notice of some disasters, such as hurricanes, others can happen without warning – so it’s crucial to be prepared. Keep reading for some tips to get you started. 

Start creating your plan

First, get informed about what types of disasters could affect your area. If you’re not sure, your insurance company can help you. Then, it’s time to make a plan. There are several things to consider as you go: How will you receive emergency alerts and warnings? What is your shelter plan? What is your evacuation route? How will you contact family members if you get separated? Get clear on what action should be taken for different types of disasters, including whether you should shelter in place or evacuate your home.

Be sure to tailor your plan to the specific needs and situations of the members of your family – such as ages, responsibilities for assisting others, disabilities, medical needs, languages spoken, and pets. You can use a guide like this one to create your plan. 

Next, practice your plan. Make sure every family member understands their responsibilities, how to contact other family members, and where you’ll meet if separated. Everyone should be comfortable executing the plan should an unforeseen event occur. 

Build an emergency kit

Now that you have a plan, it’s time to put together an emergency kit that contains supplies that will last you several days. A basic kit should include plenty of water, non-perishable food, a hand crank radio, a flashlight with extra batteries, first aid kit, extra phone chargers or external batteries, hygiene and sanitation items, medication, copies of personal documents and a list of emergency numbers and important contacts – including your insurance company. Start with this printable list and make sure to add any items that may be unique to your family’s situation – such as pet food and medications. Store your kit in a cool, dry place. Ideally, you would have one kit each at home, work and in your car. 

Be sure to review your kit at least once a year and replace any food, medications or other supplies that are expired. You may need to update your kit based on the changing needs of members of your family as well. 

Prepare for disasters that could affect your area

Based on where you live, find out which natural disasters are most likely to affect you and prepare accordingly. For storms like hurricanes where you may have advanced warning, you can take some steps to minimize damage: declutter drains and gutters, remove loose branches, bring in outside furniture, and consider hurricane shutters. 

For other events like tornadoes and earthquakes, you likely won’t have much time to prepare beforehand, so the best thing you can do is have a plan already in place and pay close attention to local warnings and alerts. 

Lastly, make sure your home insurance policy is up to date and provides the coverage you need. Depending on the situation, you may need to add coverage or purchase a separate policy to cover damage caused by natural disasters like floods or fires. If you’d like help reviewing your current policy, we’re here to help – just fill out the form below. 

No one likes to think about disaster striking, but being prepared can keep you, your family and your belongings safe – and having the right homeowners insurance policy in place can protect you financially if you do need to make repairs or replacements. Make a plan, then contact us to review your insurance policy and make sure you’re protected.

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Author Tim Bauer

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