NEW YORK — September is National Preparedness Month, which means there’s no better time to prep yourself and your family for the unexpected. Don’t wait until torrential rain and high winds beat on your windows or wildfire flames glow on the horizon. In those moments, your only thought will be getting your family to safety.
According to the Association of International Certified Public Accountants, nearly 30% of people have not taken any steps to prepare their family for a natural disaster, yet more than 60% of Americans believe they will likely be impacted by one in the next three to five years.
While no one likes to dwell on worst-case scenarios, taking time now to prepare your family for any unexpected event will save you precious time when a disaster strikes, and help you evacuate at a moment’s notice if need be. Here are a few ways to start.
- Pack Your “Go Bag”: A “Go Bag” is a disaster kit that ensures that you and your family have everything you may need in an emergency. The American Red Cross recommends packing an emergency radio, water container, food supply for three days, a personal hygiene kit, a first aid kit and any medications your family needs. If you have a pet, ensure you have enough food, medications, a leash, collar, ID tags and even a crate or kennel in case you need to evacuate to a public shelter. Some other items to include are a flashlight, batteries, multi-tools, duct tape, exam gloves and hand sanitizer.
- Know What Natural Disasters Could Affect You: According to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), 90% of disasters within the United States involve flooding and an estimated 1,000 tornadoes touch down every year. Knowing what natural disasters your region is prone to can help you best prepare.
- Stay Informed: There are various apps and alerts you can sign up for to stay on top of any weather developments. You can get the latest storm forecasts online from NOAA’s National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. You can also download the Federal Emergency Management Agency app to send notifications to loved ones, locate emergency shelters in your area and more. T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile customers can call 611 or visit T-Mobile.com to stay up to date on response and recovery efforts.
- Use Tech to Protect Your Essentials: Using technology to store all your important documents on a secure jump drive or in cloud storage can help keep you protected during an emergency. There are several apps available like Google Scan Drive that allow you to use your phone’s camera as a scanning device. The DHS recommends you capture important documents like insurance policies, identification documents, medical records and pet information. You can also scan memorabilia like family photos in case the physical copies are destroyed.
- Stay Charged: To stay connected during a storm, keep your phone fully charged. Make sure you have fully charged portable power banks to keep your smartphones charged and the correct charging cables. Doing so will help you reach loved ones and find safety when disaster strikes. To maintain an optimal battery level, set your phone to power saving mode and use airplane mode when your phone is not in use.
Don’t wait until an emergency is looming to prepare. Taking key actions now can help you stay safe, informed and connected during a natural disaster, and help you recover in the aftermath.