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How to Prepare for the Unexpected

Nobody likes to think about experiencing a natural disaster, but it’s better to plan ahead than try to figure out what to do when an extreme situation strikes. During National Preparedness Month, take some time to create an emergency plan for you and your loved ones. Here are some helpful tips and steps to get you started.

Creating an emergency plan will not only help you weather a storm; it will also give you peace of mind that everyone will be safe. But that can only happen if you practice, practice, practice. It’s especially important to drill young children or elderly family members on what they should do when disaster strikes.

Be sure all family members know how to dial 911, know their own phone number, and understand how critical it is to follow the plan for maximum safety.

Know the Difference

  1. ​Create a floor plan of your home. You can use a free grid and tips from the National Fire Protection Association to get started.

  • Mark exits for each room — there should be two ways out no matter where you are in the house.

  • Mark locations of smoke alarms.

  • Draw the escape route from each room so everyone knows where they should go.

  1. Determine a meeting place a safe distance from the house and mark it on the escape plan as well.

  2. Assign a person in the home to assist children and the elderly.

  1. Be sure you are listening to or watching the news to stay informed of calls for evacuation.

  2. Avoid contact with floodwater. It may be contaminated.

  3. When told to evacuate, DO IT. Follow approved evacuation routes for maximum safety.

  1. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, be sure your home conforms to earthquake-resistant requirements. Older homes may need to be retrofitted with safety measures.

  2. Find the places in your home that are the safest: no tall, heavy, unsecured items or furniture should be nearby.

  3. recommends you do not get into a doorway or run outside if you are at home when the earthquake strikes. Wherever you are, Drop, Cover, then Hold On!

  1. The safest place in your home during a tornado is an underground space or an interior room on the first floor with no windows. Consider having your safe room inspected and reinforced especially for tornado emergencies.

  2. If there’s time, secure outside furniture and other objects that could turn into projectiles during the storm.

  3. Know where the nearest emergency shelter is located.


Emergencies can happen anytime, anywhere. Packing a supplies kit and keeping it in a place anyone in the family can access can make a big difference to how you handle an emergency. Your emergency kit should include enough of these items to last for at least three days:

Review your kit regularly, replacing expired items (including medicines) and adding new items as your needs change (adding a pet or family member).

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