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National Preparedness Month: Ways to prepare your home for an emergency

Your family may not be together when a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area and to create corresponding response plans. While we rely on the internet and cell phones to connect, those connections can be destroyed during a natural disaster. So, you can’t count on a text or phone call to relay plans at the moment. To keep everyone safe, involve the whole family in disaster planning. Here are a few things to make sure everyone knows.  

Create a plan to reunite. 
Like we said earlier, you can’t necessarily rely on normal types of communication after a disaster. So, you need to make a plan in advance for your family to reunite once it’s safe to do so. Choose a common location – like a church, school or community center – for all adult members of your family to use as a meeting point if something happens. Make sure your kids know to stay where they are and wait for a parent to come to get them. 

Build your emergency supply kits.
Supplies run out quickly if you’re anticipating a disaster – like a blizzard or a hurricane. And, they run out fast if there is an unforseen disaster. So having an emergency kit ready at home and in your car can ensure you have the supplies you need. Start with items you may already have in your home – like a flashlight, batteries, copies of important documents, water and non-perishable food. When you go to the grocery store, you can pick up an extra item each time that you use regularly. Community food banks are a potential resource for families to stock their emergency supply kits. 

Store important documents 
Record important contact and medical information about your family, and store copies both digitally and on paper. Make sure you also have important phone numbers somewhere other than your cell phone. Store items like passports, birth certificates, maps and electronics in a flood-safe place like a high shelf or upper floor in resealable water-tight plastic bags to help waterproof them. 

In case of an earthquake:
In case of earthquakes, hold regular drop, cover, and hold on drills with your family. Be sure to anchor heavy objects like furniture or appliances to walls and secure fragile or heavy objects.

In case of a home fire:
If you don’t already have a fire or carbon monoxide detector in your home, you can contact your local fire department to see if they have programs that provide them. It’s also a good idea to create and practice a fire escape plan from your home. Teach children not to hide from firefighters in case of emergency. And, ensure you can get through doorways and exits if you or a family member uses a walker or wheelchair.