Plan For an Emergency to Ease Anxiety, Speed Recovery

Recent hurricanes battering the Caribbean and southern United States and another Sept. 11 commemoration remind us of our fragility and the importance of getting emergency plans buttoned up.

September is National Preparedness Month, and it’s time to get your home and family ready for any event. It can be difficult to overcome the natural inclination to think “it won’t happen to me.” Being prepared doesn’t have to involve backbreaking work. It simply means assembling the tools and resources you’ll need if the unexpected occurs.

Sarah on “Know Your Community”:

While we would put a large amount of trust in our local governments and their emergency preparedness, it is important to research their public-policy procedures for your reference. If a town/city evacuation occurs, which roads are deemed the safest? What do the sirens for each kind of emergency sound like? How does the school handle a national emergency? Being well-informed is the best way to handle any difficult situations. Also, find out emergency procedures in your workplace. For more information, log on to Ready.gov.

Alicia on “Document the Essentials”:

Have the basics for survival, listed below, but get your documents in order ahead of time as well. Put together a binder of the most critical information for your family and home; keep it handy. The binder should contain items such as your roofer’s phone number to check for wind damage or appraisal information for furniture damaged in a flooded basement. It should be organized so even your child knows just where to look for all of your contact numbers. If it’s too daunting to make your own binder, versions such as Life.doc, Valuables.doc, Pocket.doc and Pet.doc can help you organize the essentials quickly and easily. Having this family, pet and home information at your fingertips when the worst happens can be reassuring during an unsure situation.

Here are three steps to prepare your family for anything:

# 1. Make a plan.

Have a family emergency plan. Designate specific meeting places both close to home and farther away, such as a neighbor’s home and Grandma’s house in the next city. Make sure each family member has a telephone number and e-mail contact for an out-of-state person whom everyone can contact and relay news to. In addition, prepare a list of pet-friendly family members or hotels, in case you have to evacuate. Keep these resources in mind when stocking up extra food and first-aid supplies.

# 2. Have the right supplies on hand.

Keep a supply of water, food and batteries in a waterproof container; replace this supply every six months. Store at least 3 gallons of water per person per day, canned food and a can opener in a dry, accessible place. Keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times in case of an evacuation. Know the best routes, avoid roads that easily flood and keep maps of alternate routes. Have enough prescriptions and over-the-counter medications on hand to last six weeks. Keep some cash on you, because ATMs and banks may be closed or not working.

#3. Get insured.

Find out the best ways to prepare your home for flood, wind, earthquake or any other elements. Be sure you document the valuables in your home, taking inventory of its contents with photos and video. Photograph the home itself, inside and out. Be ready with the proper insurance and ask what is covered and what is not. For example, with Florida basic insurance, you may be covered for tropical-storm wind damage, but flood insurance is an extra premium. If you rent, purchase renter’s insurance to cover your possessions; your landlord’s homeowners insurance will not cover it.