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The recent hurricanes and flooding in Florida and the Carolinas and fires in California, as well as our massive flooding of August of 2014 and power outage of August 2003, remind us that anything could happen, anywhere, at any time. Being proactive by protecting yourself with the following tips may enable you to have a more predictable, stable, solid plan of action if disaster strikes.

1. Develop a plan of action with your family. Identify the types of disasters that might occur in your area, and detail how you would react in each scenario. Consult with your local fire and police departments for tips about how to create emergency evacuation plans and for other disaster preparedness techniques. These plans should be available in a written document that first responders and your family members can access, and they should include contact information and a designated meeting place that is easy to get to after evacuation.

2. You should have supplies in your home to sustain your family for several days (at least three) in the event that you are stranded in the house. This should include water enough for each person and pets. One gallon per person, per day. Do you have enough of your prescription medication?

3. Have a “Go Bag” prepared and ready for quick evacuation. You should enough material for at least three days. This should contain food and water, light and communication, health and hygiene items, shelter and clothing. You should also provide for special needs for the sick, nursing mothers, elderly, and infants. Make sure you grab the following when you leave:

  • Prescription medications, including inhalers
  • Special medical equipment (oxygen tanks or nebulizers)
  • Walkers or wheelchairs
  • Dentures
  • Cell phones and chargers
  • Identification
  • Credit cards
  • Favorite dolls and stuffed animals for small children

4. Have every adult and responsible child in your home learn basic life-saving skills, such as CPR and how to prevent hypothermia.

5. Learn the ins and outs of your home, including how to shut off utilities and where the fire extinguishers are located. Identify the best place to seek shelter in the event of a tornado, earthquake, or other threat. Have a fully stocked first aid kit available at all times. Check it on a regular basis to make sure the items have not expired.

6. Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, test them regularly, and change the batteries twice a year.

7. Protect yourself with the right insurance. Consider purchasing flood insurance if your homeowners’ insurance does not include it.

8. If you have small children in the home, teach them how
to call 911 in case of emergencies.