The day begins as any other, but the rains come fast and the river overflows its banks, or the tornado sirens blare, or the earth shakes. Are you prepared?

FEMA has organized September as natural disaster preparedness month and focuses on planning with a theme of “Disasters don’t plan ahead. You can.”  You can visit www.ready.gov, Homeland Security’s informational website, to identify the biggest risks for your area, strategies for developing an emergency plan or to download free information on preparing for a number of natural disasters, including:  hurricanes, floods, winter storms, earthquakes, tornados and wildfires.

Whether it is hurricane season where you live or you need to brace for coming winter storms, why not get started today? In 2016 there were $18.4 billion in total losses due to natural disasters in the US alone. (source: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/os/hazstats/sum16.pdf) Knowing your risks depending on where you live and preparing for them can make all the difference to you and your family. Here are some other ways that you can prepare for natural disasters.

Home Inventory

Minimize possible insurance claim hassles by taking an inventory of each room in your house with photographs or videos as proof that you own possessions that might be lost or damaged. Be sure to open drawers and closets to estimate the number of such items as books or DVDs and their approximate values as you walk through each room.

FidSafe® Tip: Safeguard your home inventory by uploading it to FidSafe. Make a folder in FidSafe called Home Insurance to store this and copies of any official property value appraisals with your insurance policy numbers and contacts.

Emergency Contacts

Create an emergency contact list of everyone you might need to reach out to during or after a disaster including friends, relatives, business associates or important trades such as a plumber or contractor and insurance contacts, or medical professionals.

FidSafe® Tip: Create and store these phone numbers, addresses and emails in FidSafe.

Group Communication Plan

Consider having a family meeting about disaster preparedness to come up with a plan for how to:

  • Communicate with each other in an emergency
  • Escape routes including fire escape or alternate commuter plans for flooding, etc.
  • What you need to put in your emergency kit

As part of your group communication plan designate a local meeting place and contact for everyone in your family to go to or call to assure other members they are ok. It may also be a good idea to agree on and provide contact information for a friend or relative outside the region with whom members can check in if people need to evacuate or are scattered. Consider storing this information on your phone.

FidSafe Tip: Document these and any other items that come out of your meeting in FidSafe, then share them with family members via FidSafe.

Emergency Kit

Assemble a kit with supplies you would need to ride out the disaster. Find a list of what you may need here: http://www.ready.gov/build-a-kit

Include any additional items you identify in your family meeting, including your emergency contact list.

Find a clear plastic box with wheels and a lid to store all the items in your emergency kit so you can protect the contents, see what’s inside at a glance, and move the kit to your car easily if evacuation is necessary.

FidSafe Tip: Make the kit, then note the date you created it, the items in it and where it’s stored so you’ll have an easy reminder in FidSafe if you need it.

Grab and Go

If you only have minutes to grab the most important things in your home before you have to leave it, what would they be? You can brainstorm what these might be at your family meeting: anything that people in your family can’t live without such as glasses, inhalers, other medications, and any important original documents or family photos.

FidSafe Tip: Make a list of such items in FidSafe to save you time and consider printing it out and taping it to your emergency kit.

Some of the preparation you do for natural disasters in FidSafe may be useful for other emergencies or times of transition. For example, ensuring your original documents are preserved in a waterproof, fireproof safe, or in a safety deposit box, then noting the location of each original item in FidSafe could be useful to have in many situations, as could your emergency contact list.

Please let us know if you have other tips or ideas on how to prepare yourself and your family for a natural disaster.