Everyone should have a natural disaster game plan. As a first-time homeowner it’s even more important to make sure you and your home are ready for an emergency situation that might come down to evacuating your home or sheltering in place for an extended time period. When you are getting settled into a new home it’s an ideal time to think about getting these plans in place. Here are some disaster preparedness tips that can help everyone in your household feel more at ease about the unthinkable.
Prepare your disaster kit
One of the simplest steps to take, no matter where you live, is to gather what disaster preparedness experts like the American Red Cross call an emergency kit. This is a store of supplies that you can quickly take with you if a disaster strikes and you need to evacuate your home. It will provide you with basic necessities for at least three days. Kits will be personalized based on your specific needs and should include items like: essential medications, a flashlight, first aid kit, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, family emergency contact information and copies of important documents, blankets, water, cash, portable chargers for electronic devices, and nonperishable food. These items should be stored together somewhere in your home that is easily accessible in a moment’s notice. No matter if your city or town is at risk for a flood, tornado, earthquake, hurricane, or even has a low risk of natural disasters, this kit is essential.
Be aware of your surroundings
Knowing what to expect can help you stay on your toes in an emergency situation. The National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University has built a tool which allows you to enter your address to see the level of hazard risk for your area — for example, for an avalanche, earthquake, drought, landslide, or other disasters. The tool will also give you an overall hazard index which can help you better understand general natural disaster risk. As part of your research, knowing the radio stations in your area that cover breaking news can keep you in the loop about what’s happening if there is a widespread power outage and mobile phone reception is down for an extended period of time.
Enroll in disaster insurance
Depending on where you live and the hazard risks, your homeowners insurance policy may or may not cover your home, such as for natural disasters like an earthquake or flood. Once you understand the potential hazards for your area, talk with your insurance agent about understanding disaster coverage and add extra coverage if necessary to add to your peace of mind. For example, California residents will definitely want to consider earthquake insurance, while people living in Texas will want to think about flood coverage.
Make an inventory
When working with your insurance agent to determine your coverage you will be asked to give a basic inventory and value estimate of the items in your home. This list will be essential if you need to report damage as part of filing an insurance claim. Making an inventory might also include securing important documents like birth certificates, marriage licenses, and passports in a waterproof box or folder and adding this to your go kit.
Taking these preparedness steps can help put you at ease about natural disasters since there is no way to predict when they might strike. When you have a plan in place you can also help ensure the safety for everyone in your household if you do need to face a hazardous situation.