Getting through to your community - Top Seven Preparedness Tips that can be put into place now!


In order to engage with your community it is important that information given and exchanged is relevant, practical and manageable. How does one prepare for hazards such as hurricanes, storms and low frequency hazards such as earthquakes? The following blog lays these out and keeps it simple. These could be provided by one tip a day for each day of the week, or spending time together as family to do so. In order to get children involved, turn hazard hunts into games and even shop together for certain items for your Go-Bags!

 

If you are in the US, FEMA has a dedicated website for disaster preparedness, Ready.gov.

It may be helpful to know the risk of flooding in your area and the elevation of your home above flood stage, which is available from your local Red Cross chapter or your local emergency management agency, advises insurer MetLife.

A flood watch or a flash flood watch means a flood is possible in your area, generally issued for flooding that is expected to occur at least six hours after heavy rains have ended. A flood warning or a flash flood warning means flooding is occurring or is imminent in the warning area.

Here are seven tips that may help you, your family or your business prepare for a natural disaster:

 

  1. Prepare for Phone Interruptions

    Individuals and Business owners need to have a communication plan, in case neither phone nor texting is available.

    When Hurricane Katrina hit, knocked out cell phone towers and land lines left employers and employees without the means to communicateKnow and understand the disaster plan in advance and each have a copy of it they can easily refer to.

    Cell phone (mobile phone) users can usually text more successfully than call when a network experiences high volume, like during 9/11, or Hurricane Sandy because texting uses less data. But those not familiar with texting may need a tutorial. Full QWERTY keyboard makes it easy to text rather than numeric keypad on basic cell phones, which can be more cumbersome and harder to learn. If you are a little clumsy at texting, see if you can text more and get in practice!

    Make sure you contact out of state or out of county contacts to let others know you are safe. Using Facebook and Twitter may also be useful (you can even get these on smart phones and tablet devices if the power is out!

  2. Create a disaster plan or test your current one!

    Homeowners should consider which valuable objects they will take with them in case of an emergency evacuation.

    A disaster plan should clearly communicate pre- and post-disaster procedures to any relevant people. For families, that includes near and far relatives and friends. Business owners should communicate disaster plans to employees, customers, vendors, and business partners.

    The safety of people, such as employees and customers, should be the first procedure. The plan should next address how to protect your property and business records.

     

    Planning and creating a disaster Go-Bagis a really smart idea! You can even have several for the office, car, school and home!

     

  3. Check your Insurance is up to date and what it covers you for!

    Homeowners and business owners should never fully rely on an insurance policy.

    Homeowner's policies usually do not cover loss due to flooding, but coverage can be purchased from the federal government. In the  US, Homeowners can ask their agents about the details or contact the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-379-9531. A simple google search should allow you to do the same for your local geographic area!
    TIP: Don't wait until there is a potential disaster threatening, do it now. You are more likely to get through and you will be far less stressed!

    It is especially important to review your homeowner's policy with your agent or broker so you understand the amount you will receive in the event of a covered loss, and whether it will be adequate to rebuild your home. Homeowners should also know the amount of a deductible and any special provisions in the policy such as wind exclusions. And include your insurance company's toll free claim number and insurance agent's phone number in your emergency evacuation kit.

  4. Assess your property for potential vulnerabilities

    Homeowners should inspect their homes for potential problem in case of a disaster, such as old trees near to the house.

    You should also make sure the roof does not have holes or is missing shingles (roof tiles). To safeguard against strong winds, you may have to nail down new shingles or remove loose objects, like lawn furniture. (These can cause serious damage to windows and patio doors if not collected up and stored in a garage or basement)

    Again, don't wait to carry out these tasks: Some fix-it tasks can be completed over a weekend, such as reinforcing a garage door, vents and a gable, or triangular, roof, so water does not leak in. Those living in low lying areas where coastal storms surge should move electronic devices off the ground floor and put heavy furniture on blocks to prevent damage from flooding. Also, homeowners should roll up rugs.

    Know your neighbourhood:Look around your neighborhood for vulnerabilities, such as from abandoned properties. If a hurricane or tropical storm approaches, notify the lender or bank that has taken ownership of a foreclosed or abandoned property, as well as town officials.

  5. Take Photographs or video for a home inventory

    For insurance purposes and for your own personal keepsake in case of a disaster, you should have a home inventory or a photographic record.

    While you are doing that, you can consider which few items to bring in case of an evacuation.

  6. Go Bag time - What do you need?

    FEMA recommends people should have a bare minimum of a three-day supply of water and you should store at least one gallon of water per person per day.

    A normally active person needs at least one-half gallon of water daily just for drinking, but sometimes children, nursing mothers, the sick and people in hot temperatures may require more, according to FEMA.

    You may also want to prepare covered foods and about a month's supply of medication. You should also prepare traditional and special batteries for products like cell phones. You can get information on what to put in a Go-Bag here and you can even turn this into a game with young ones, so that they know that you are ready as a family! Don't forget pets too!

  7. Pets need shelter too...

    During Hurricane Katrina, there were some people who did not evacuate as recommended because they had pets, or they did not know what to do with their pets.

    The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety advises that if you are going to evacuate with a pet, make sure your hotel or shelter accepts pets.

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