Q: National Preparedness Month is here, and I was wondering if you had any tips I should follow to help prepare for a disaster as best as possible?
A: It’s great that you want to be as prepared as possible. Disasters rarely give you warning, and can strike at any time, which is why you need to be prepared.
According to FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security, there are four things you can do to prepare for a disaster.
Make and practice your plan – Start by making an emergency plan with everyone in the home.
Put together a plan by discussing four different questions with your family, friends or household to begin your emergency plan. Discuss how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings, what your shelter plan is, your evacuation route, and the household communication plan.
It’s best to practice your escape plan with your family, including animals, at least twice a year so you are fully prepared when disaster strikes.
Fill out an emergency plan at ready.gov/make-a-plan and share with everyone in your family, or household.
Learn life-saving skills – Learn how to turn off utilities like natural gas and electricity, and how to test and replace smoke alarms. It’s recommended to test smoke alarms every month, and to replace them every 10 years.
You should also know the ways to keep your home safe from cooking, heating and electrical fires by visiting ready.gov/home-fires.
Check your insurance coverage – According to FEMA, more than half of all U.S. homeowners do not carry adequate homeowners insurance to replace their home and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur. Insurance is your first line of defense, which is why you should check your insurance coverage, and review your policy.
For more information on insurance visit fema.gov.
Save for an emergency – According to the Federal Reserve, over 40 percent of Americans don’t have $400 in savings. It’s important to be financially prepared for any type of disaster.
Consider saving money and storing it in an emergency savings account, as well as leaving a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. If a disaster strikes, ATMs and credit card machines may stop working, leaving cash as the only option.
You should also gather all financial and critical personal, household and medical information and store it in a safe, yet easily accessible place.
It’s important to also obtain property, health and life insurance, and review your existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is enough for you and your family.
For more tips, visit ready.gov/financial-preparedness.
“Storm chasers” also strike immediately after a disaster, and prey on people emotions. While some can be reputable, many are not.
For tips on protecting yourself from a “storm chaser,” visit bbb.org.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems toAction Line at the BetterBusiness Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or firstname.lastname@example.org.