This September marks the 10th annual recognition of National Preparedness Month. From Superstorm Sandy to Hurricane Katrina, the last decade has presented us with plenty of reasons to prepare for the worst. Even if you weren’t personally affected by these storms, hopefully every passing disaster nudged you to update your emergency preparedness kit. The CDC and FEMA are hosting events all across the country, partnering with more than 3,000 organizations and hoping to spur Americans to get ready for the next big storm, flood, fire, or earthquake.
In celebration of National Preparedness Month, we’d like to help in educating the public about how to prepare for emergencies and national disasters.
COAST Products’ top 5 Emergency Preparation tips for National Preparedness Month
1. Keep an Emergency Kit in your Car, at Home, in the Office, Etc.
You never know when a disaster will strike. The best defense is to have emergency supplies in your habitual locations. So, you might keep a kit in your car, another in your office, and a third at home. If you’re not sure what to include in your kit, we recommend an LED flashlight for each member of your family, as this will keep make family member feel safer, while also allowing for more autonomy. For more emergency kit components, check out Homeland Security’s Emergency supply checklist.
2. Make an Emergency Plan.
Just as schools practice fire drills, it’s crucial that every member of your family understands what to do in an emergency. Where will you meet after a disaster? How will you contact each other? How will you respond to different types of emergencies? These questions should be answered in your emergency plan. To make sure you include everything, fill out Homeland Security’s Family Emergency Plan.
Businesses of all sizes should also maintain and practice emergency plans. Ready Business, another federal resource, can help you prepare.
3. Prepare for Phone Service Interruptions.
Remember those news photos after Hurricane Sandy, showing New Yorkers plugging their cell phones into outlets provided by good Samaritans? Even if your electricity isn’t out, natural disasters can cause phone service interruptions—or overloaded circuitry, as thousands of people try to call their loved ones simultaneously. So, think ahead about alternative ways to contact your family members—via email or text messaging, for instance. Text messaging is often a more reliable form of post-disaster communication, since it doesn’t require as much bandwidth as a phone call. Finally, we recommend stashing a cell phone charger in your car’s emergency kit; that way you’ll be able to continue using your phone even if your electricity is down for long periods.
4. Update or Upgrade Your Insurance Policies.
Check that your insurance policies are current, and that you have enough insurance for every conceivable disaster. Oftentimes, homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage; to learn more about adding on this kind of coverage, contact the National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-379-9531. You should also consult with your agent to learn how much you will receive if a disaster strikes. Be sure to review your deductible rates, as well as any policy exceptions, such as wind damage exclusions.
5. Safeguard Important Documents.
Passports, birth certificates, marriage licenses—key documents like these should be kept in a waterproof, fireproof container. Also: keep digital copies of your important documents online, and in an external hard drive. While you’re at it, make sure you’re backing up your computer often enough that you could survive in case of a disaster.
National Preparedness Month—it’s the perfect time to bring your emergency planning up to date! Once you have the basics in place, you can add items to keep your family comfortable in a state of emergency. For instance, if you’re kept out of your home for weeks on end, thoughtful items such as LED lanterns, a pack of playing cards, and a hand-crank radio can make the shelter feel a little more like home.