We are not yet through November and some of us have already experienced a fall snowstorm. Storms of all kinds can hit with little notice no matter where you live and even if it’s not weather related, many scary problems strike and can be very dangerous, costly, and life threatening. We have seen that just in the last two weeks with the worst California wildfires ever (and now potential mudslides) that have taken dozens of lives and destroyed so much property. For these reasons and more, it pays to have an emergency plan.
What Can You Do About Any of This?
If storms, fires, or other disasters strike, the very least you can do is be prepared with a plan and adequate emergency supplies. Even if you need to eventually evacuate, and I hope you never have to consider it, you need a plan of action.
It’s always a great idea to check way in advance with your local agencies as to what items are essential to have on hand during an emergency or power outage in your area and what you need to know in case things become life threatening to protect you and your family like an evacuation route, especially if you are near a coastal flood area.
What About Property Insurance?
It sort of goes without saying that you should have some kind of property insurance, but it’s even more important when you are a victim of storm damage or any other natural disaster event.
But many homeowners learn the hard way that their regular homeowner’s insurance policy doesn’t cover property damage caused by something like hurricanes or floods.
If you live in a potentially affected area—which includes everything from homes on shore areas that have frequent floods to one downhill from a stream that hasn’t flooded in years—you should buy a separate flood insurance policy to cover your home and its contents!
You can purchase flood insurance from a broker or agent through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Flood insurance is available to any homeowner who lives in one of the many NFIP-participating communities (which have agreed to pass and enforce certain storm water and flood plain management laws). Do you know if you live in a flood area?
If you need an agent, call the NFIP at (888) 379-9531 or visit its website at www.floodsmart.gov.
Floods occur, hurricanes and tornadoes come around every season, trees fall and roofs are damaged. You can say all day long that it will never happen to you, but that was said by many before and they have lived to regret it. Insurance is one expense you may really need to spend on and must carefully consider. Even if you rent, you need to protect your personal property.
Here’s a great article that explains everything for you about insurance you may need and what is and isn’t covered: Hurricanes and Flood Insurance: What Homeowners Should Know.
Have a Family Emergency Plan
Think about what might happen to your family in an emergency. Will they all be together? Or will you need to designate a safe meeting place to reconnect? If a hurricane or tornado hits, you’ll need a safe room in your home. On the other hand, if a fire burns your home, you’ll need to know how to evacuate and find a safe place in your neighborhood to meet up. And if you’re instructed to evacuate the area, you may need an out-of-town place to reconnect, such as the home of a relative or family friend.
It’s also important to have emergency contacts and an ICE (in case of emergency) contact on every family member’s mobile phone. A paper copy of family and emergency numbers will be useful if your phone runs out of battery life or is lost.
For more information on creating an emergency plan, check out ready.gov.
What You Need to Prepare in Your Emergency Kit
For emergencies, you should prepare an emergency kit in advance. How often have you seen on TV the stories about stores being swarmed by customers who buy everything that isn’t nailed down at the last second before a major storm, and many wind up out of luck—no food, water or even batteries for a flashlight! Don’t let that ever happen to you.
Below, I have put together some important items to have on hand during any emergency, particularly for the winter months ahead.
Water – It’s a good idea to have a gallon of water per person, per day on hand, for at least three days. Water can be used for both drinking and sanitation.
Non-perishable food – It’s recommended that you have at least a three-day supply of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food and don’t forget a manual can opener.
Battery-powered or hand crank radio – Make sure to store with extra batteries.
Flashlight and extra batteries – Flashlights are much better than candles as far as safety is concerned.
First aid kit – You can generally get really good pre-made kits at your local drugstore.
Emergency contact info – Make sure, of course, that it is someone other than a person living in the same house.
Multi-purpose tool – Sometimes items that take batteries have screws that need to be undone first. This is a handy tool to have on hand.
Whistle – This is a great item to have if you happen to become stuck somewhere and need help.
Items for personal sanitation – Baby wipes or hygiene towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties.
Mobile phone with chargers – It’s a good idea to have a car charger and/or a power bank as well in case you lose all power.
Thermal emergency blankets – Also known as a space blanket. One for each family member.
Rain ponchos – One for each family member.
Gloves – Not only for warmth, but for safety reasons, too.
Personal hygiene supplies – Such as deodorant, a toothbrush, paste, sanitary napkins, soap, small towels.
Copies of important documents, placed in a waterproof container – You will want to include a copy of your driver’s license and/or birth certificate, bank account information, insurance cards, and policy numbers.
Cash – ATMs may not be working and small bills are best.
Extra set of house keys and car keys
Prescription medications – A seven-day supply is recommended.
Pet supplies – A carrier, food, water, blanket, and any medications they might need.
Children and baby supplies – Small toys or coloring books, diapers & wipes, formula, baby food.
An extra set of clothing for each family member
You always want to double-check the expiration dates and update your emergency preparedness kit every six months. You need to make sure that your safety kit is portable and ready to go in the case of an emergency or evacuation.
As scary as it sounds to even think about the kinds of things that can and do happen every year around the nation and the world, they do happen. With an emergency plan, your chances of remaining safe and limiting the financial damages are better.
What kind of preparation have you made for the potential of winter storms, fires, and other natural disasters? Do you have an emergency kit? Do you know where it is and have you thought about things like an evacuation plan if necessary? Have you ever experienced any real natural disasters and what did you do when it happened?