Preparing for a Disaster

Disasters can strike anyone at any time. Be it natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, or man-made disasters such as terrorist attacks or power outages, they often strike without warning. Even if you are prepared, the results can be devastating, but they can be lessened if you think ahead.

By assembling the proper paperwork and emergency kits ahead of time you can save precious minutes in the event of a sudden onset. This article will give you guidelines on the types of things you can do to protect yourself, your family and your possessions, as well as what to take with you in the event of an emergency. While no plan can be guaranteed to keep you safe, it can ease the burden in the long run.


Disaster Prevention Tips (varies depending on your geographic location):

  • Install smoke detectors on every level of your home · Clear surrounding brush to protect from wildfires
  • Elevate your utilities to upper levels · Secure objects that could fall in an earthquake
  • Have your home inspected for possible structural improvements
  • Anchor your home to its foundation and your roof to your home
  • Cover windows and glass doors with shutters or plywood if warned of an upcoming hurricane or flood
  • Develop a Family Communication Plan and educate the entire family


  • Take a thorough inventory of your home and store the records in a safe-deposit box or another safe location outside your home
  • Record model and serial numbers as well as purchase information of your items
  • Get appraisals for jewelry, art, etc. for proof of replacement cost
  • Take photos of your furniture and large items such as boats, cars, motorcycles, etc.
  • Make sure your insurance policy covers the full contents of your home
  • Although expensive, consider flood insurance or other hazard insurance specific to your area
  • Update your inventory every one or two years


  • Make copies of all your financial, legal and medical documents
  • Store originals in a safe place outside your home
  • Keep copies on hand to take with you in the event of an emergency
  • Set aside an emergency fund that you can draw on

YOUR EMERGENCY KIT—Your kit should be ready to take and go on a moment’s notice. It should include the following for surviving three days:

Sustenance and Comfort:

  • Bottled water ·
  • Non-perishable food items that don’t need to be heated—preferably high in protein
  • Can opener, cups, eating utensils, utility knife
  • Clothing for a few days
  • Battery-operated radio and flashlight, extra batteries
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Masks or cloths to filter dirty air
  • First-aid kit ·
  • Sanitation supplies
  • Toiletries
  • Blankets and jackets for warmth, if necessary
  • Tools and supplies
  • Special needs for infants or the elderly
  • Cash or traveler’s checks and rolls of quarters
  • ATM, credit cards

Documents—keep in a waterproof container:

  • Copies of medical records for the entire family, including prescriptions
  • Copies of insurance cards · Copies of your insurance policies
  • Copies of legal documents such as birth certificates and marriage certificates, passports, etc.
  • Copies of veterinarian records for pets
  • Photos of family members and pets in case you get separated
  • Backups of computer documents, especially if you own a business
  • A list of all your credit cards, bank accounts, etc., including phone numbers for each company
  • A list of emergency contact information
  • Copies of investment information should you need to draw on the accounts


  • Food and water for about three days
  • Collars, up-to-date identification tags, leashes
  • Beds and toys if possible · Litter box and trash bags

No one can predict an emergency. But if you are prepared, the experience will be less traumatic. For more information on how you can be better prepared, visit these web sites:,, .


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