September is National Preparedness Month – a time to consider the risks of natural disasters and prepare for the hazards that could strike at any time.
These disasters are more prevalent each year. According to research from the National Centers for Environmental Information, 22 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters ravaged the United States in 2020, ranging from a historic number of hurricanes, several severe thunderstorms, and wildfires.
As these severe weather events become more frequent, it’s essential to prepare. This September, we encourage you to participate in the events that comprise National Preparedness Month. The safety of your loved ones (and yourself) is so important.
Step 1: Make a Plan
The first step of National Preparedness Month is all about making plans – specifically, how you and your family will communicate in the event of a disaster. We recommend planning methodically, taking into account:
- The type of natural disaster: according to Statista, the most common natural disasters that face Americans include winter storms and cold waves, severe thunderstorms, hurricanes, flash floods, heat waves, wildfires, and earthquakes. Assess your region, and consider the most common type of extreme weather you may have to face.
- Create a communication plan: in the event of a natural disaster, will everyone meet in the same place? How will you contact one another if the phone lines are out or if the electricity and water no longer function? Talking through these eventualities will make them much easier to face when the time comes.
- Write the plan down: after you talk through your plan, be sure to write it down and store it in a place that’s easily accessible – we recommend keeping it next to your disaster kit (more on that below).
Step 2: Build a Kit
A disaster preparedness kit is a vital part of disaster preparation – a good kit will have all of the essentials. The experts at Ready.gov recommend including the following in a disaster preparedness kit:
- Water and food supplies for three days
- Hand radio, battery-powered or hand crank
- Extra batteries
- Dust mask
- Plastic sheeting and duct tape
- Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties
- Wrench or pliers
- Manual can opener
- Local maps
- Cell phone, chargers, and backup battery
Another essential part of your disaster preparedness kit should be a first aid kit. The first aid kit you choose should anticipate the disasters you might face and should have enough material for every member of your household. Make sure to pack your first aid kit with your disaster preparedness kit.
Step 3: Prepare Your Home
One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster is to walk yourself through the eventualities. The above two steps focus on keeping yourself and your family safe, which is always the priority. However, after you’ve secured your family, it’s time to think about your home – specifically, what you’ll do in the event of a natural disaster. After a natural disaster strikes, the way you behave can minimize the damage inflicted on your home and property.
Storms can wreak havoc on your property. Tornadoes regularly level houses, and the strong winds, rain, and water damage associated with hurricanes are worrisome. Whether you choose to ride out the storm at home or evacuate, preparation is key to getting through the storm safely.
The restoration experts at SERVPRO have shared their best tips for dealing with your home after a disaster. Their most important tip? Contact a restoration professional before entering (or re-entering) your property. This professional will advise you if it is safe to do so and let you know how to proceed. They’ve also created specific guides for dealing with water damage, fire damage, and severe storm damage to ensure that you get the most from your service.
However, if you choose to tackle the post-disaster clean up yourself, it’s crucial to prioritize your safety. According to Injury Facts, 131,400 preventable deaths occurred in the home – many due to falls and other activities associated with home improvement projects. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to keep a trauma kit on hand – even the professionals need it! For example, in a recent review for TacMed’s trauma kits, a professional window installer discusses how things got out of hand: “I install windows in houses for a living, and we were trying to pull out the window sash of [a window from 1927]. The glass was thin, and [because of pressure] it exploded. A large piece of [the glass] ended up bouncing off the windowsill and into my arm.” The professionals used a tourniquet in a TacMed trauma kit to stop the bleeding, minimizing the damage.
It’s impossible to prepare for every disaster, but by following these tips, you (and your family) will be able to ride out the storm safely.