Each September, National Preparedness Month encourages and reminds Americans to be prepared for disasters or emergencies in their homes, businesses, and communities.
As an organization who is known for showing up after disaster strikes. As a nonprofit who helps families find safety in homeownership. As a group who builds safety, stability and self-reliance through shelter, we think this month is important!
Nobody wants to think about what will happen when a major event strikes their community. An emergency can happen at any moment. Just like we prepare our future homeowners through homebuyer education – we want to help you – our loyal supporters be ready.
To reduce the stress in the event of a major disaster, it is advised to have a plan, and be prepared with safety kits.
Start with identifying what type of disasters are most likely to occur in your area. For example, if you live in a fire hazard, flood zone or for most people living in California, the dreaded earthquake. Once you know what could come your way, have a family meeting explaining what to do when an emergency arises.
For children, it is especially important for them to know what to do if they can’t get to you. One situation where this could occur is a house fire. Review fire safety procedures, show children the safest exit out of the home, and identify a safe place (like a neighbors house) to meet other family members. Make sure everyone knows how to turn off the electricity, gas and the water.
The government has an Emergency Alert System that people can sign up for to be notified when there is an emergency in their area. You can sign up here https://www.ready.gov/alerts.
This month is a great time to build an emergency kit. Start with items you may already have in your home, like a flashlight, extra batteries, first aid kit, copies of important documents, water, non-perishable food and extra money. When you go to the grocery store, pick up an extra item that you use regularly. Community food banks are a potential resource for food-insecure families to stock their emergency supply kits. Also consider battery-free supplies, like wind-up flashlights and weather radios, and it’s also a good idea to have an external phone charger at the ready in case of a power outage. Consider making an extra emergency kit for your car. Include additional items such as a pair of athletic shoes, and blankets.
Store important documents and information in a safe place. Items like passports, birth certificates, maps and electronics should be put in a secure location and in a container that is fire and waterproof. Store important documents like insurance policies digitally. Make sure you put important phone numbers somewhere besides your cell phone.
Verify your home is fully insured for the disaster risks in your area. Talk to your insurance agent to ensure there are no gaps in your coverage. If you are a renter, look into “renter’s insurance” that covers lost liability of your property. Even if the landlord holds home insurance, it does not cover the renter’s personal property. Depending on the policy, renter’s insurance can cover the cost of replacing belongings, such as clothing, furniture, and electronics as well as additional costs that the tenant could occur, such as hotel bills if the residence is damaged or has to be evacuated.
If you are on medication that is life sustaining, talk to your doctor about how to keep extra required dosages on hand in case you are away from your home and unable to access your medication in a timely manner.
For more information on creating your family’s preparedness plan, visit resources in your community such as your local fire department and Red Cross center. You can also visit https://www.fema.gov to access more preparedness information.