The seemingly daily reports of floods, tornadoes, and severe weather events are a reminder that we should be prepared for disaster. Although we may not live in “tornado alley” or by the shores of the Mississippi, we do experience our share of natural and man made disasters.
Most people don’t typically go about their daily lives thinking about how to protect their homes and family from a tornado, hurricane, or even- zombies; however, taking the time to be prepared when a disaster strikes could mitigate your losses as well as possibly improving your recovery efforts.
Disaster preparedness at home
The Federal Government offers many resources to assist in disaster preparation. Agencies such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA.gov), the Department of Homeland Security (dhs.gov), and the Centers for Diseases Control (cdc.gov) have preparedness programs that offer public education, training, and resources. Additionally, multi-agency programs such as Citizen Corps (citizencorps.gov) maintain local offices to assist volunteers as well as providing local education and response efforts.
One of the most widely offered free preparedness guides is published by FEMA. “Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness” (which can be downloaded at: disasterassistance.gov) is an instructional guide to preparedness, response and recovery. The guide is not only an informative manual on preparing and protecting your home and family from disasters, it is also a guide to help you recover from a disaster.
The guide recommends that you have a preparedness kit and a disaster plan. Among the pages of FEMA’s “Are You Ready?” is direction on securing your home, preparing a meeting place and/or an escape route, preparing anyone with special needs (i.e., dietary, medical, physical, etc), as well as caring for pets.
You most likely have some type of home owner’s insurance (or renters insurance if you don’t own a home) to help you recover financially from a disaster related loss. Because many home owners don’t know the extent or limitations of their insurance coverage until it’s too late, experts recommend that you review your home owners’ insurance policy with your insurance agent (or insurance company representative) to make sure your coverage is up to date and is able to replace your home and/or possessions in case of a catastrophic loss. Having the proper coverage may help you recover from a disaster quicker than those without coverage.
The American Insurance Association (aiadc.org) offered these tips for home preparedness and recovery in a press release issued during last years’ hurricane season (Sept 2010): Home preparedness can be achieved by: securing doors and windows; ensuring that exterior doors should have at least three hinges and a deadbolt length of at least one inch; replacing older garage doors and windows for systems that are certified for wind and impact; considering storm shutter installation; repairing any cracks or leaks around windows, doors, roof, exterior walls and foundation; ensuring that gutters and downspouts are secure and can drain water at least five feet from your home; inspecting the roof and repair if necessary; removing loose debris from around the home; removing dead or dying trees and shrubs; trimming back tree limbs from your home’s exterior and roof; compiling an inventory of your home’s contents by taking pictures or video.
To get your attention about preparedness at home, the CDC published a recommended preparedness kit (“Preparedness 101: Zombie Apocalypse”; blogs.cdc.gov/publichealthmatters/2011/05/preparedness-101-zombie-apocalypse).
by Dan Krell
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