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How to Prepare for Emergencies


Don't let a natural disaster or any other emergency catch you off guard. Here's what you can do to prepare:

1. Create an Emergency Supply Kit

When disaster strikes, it can take a few days to restore utilities and get help to everyone who needs it. Make sure your family has everything they need to survive the immediate after-math by assembling an emergency kit with enough food, water and supplies to get you through the first 72-hours:

2. Conduct a Home Inventory

Purchasing homeowner's insurance is the first step to protecting your belongings. Completing an inventory of the contents of your home is the second. Without a detailed record of what you own and how much you paid for it, your insurance company could deny your claim. Carve out a couple hours to do a home inventory now, and save yourself many battles later. Here's a free form that you can use:

Tip: If you're a stockpiler, be sure to inventory the contents of your freezer and your pantry.

3. Protect Your Records

Important documents like your birth certificate, marriage license, Social Security card, medical records and real estate deeds need to be protected. Use the government's free Emergency Financial First Aid Kit printable to pull all of your important information together. Then, follow their tips to keep it safe.

4. Learn How to Shut Off Your Utilities

Shutting your utilities off quickly can help to minimize the damage caused by a natural gas leak, flood or fire. Make sure everyone in your home knows both where your utility shut offs are and how to shut them off. Also consider adding a shut-off wrench to your tool collection.

5. Learn How to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Having fire extinguishers in your home is important, but even more important is knowing how to use them. Make sure everyone in your household knows where your extinguishers are located and how they function. Then, inspect your extinguishers regularly to ensure they're still good:

6. Plan for Messes

Storm damage, heavy rains or plumbing failures could leave your home a big, soggy mess. Keep some key supplies on hand, and you'll be able to start the dry out process before the mitigation crew even arrives.

Flood Supply List:

  • Buckets
  • Old towels
  • Mops
  • Sponges
  • Tarps, a hammer and roofing nails (for covering roof leaks)
  • Plastic sheeting (for protecting floors)
  • Fans
  • A wet/dry vac
  • A dehumidifier

7. Assemble Your Dream Team

Compile a list of friends, family and experts that you could call upon in the event of an emergency, so you don't have to waste time choosing people and searching for numbers when you're dealing with an actual emergency.

People and Numbers to Include:

  • Your utility providers (to report leaks/request shut off)
  • Your insurance agent's direct number
  • Your insurance company's claim center
  • A mitigation specialist
  • A tree service
  • A roofer
  • A babysitter (or the numbers of people whom you could ask to watch your kids)
  • your doctors' numbers

8. Get a Corded Phone

Cordless phones don't work when the power is out, but corded phones do. Keep at least one old-school, corded phone in your house, so you'll be able to make calls in the event of an emergency.

9. Keep Gas in Your Car

Make sure you'd be able to evacuate quickly, if you needed to, by keeping your gas tank at least half full at all times.
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