When we were living at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi during the mid-1990s, I had to survive my share of “natural” disasters. They ranged from toddler Jonathan “naturally” trying to stick a knife in the toaster oven, to little girl Bethany going “au-natural” while guests were over, to a full-blown natural disaster in the form of a massive tornado.
For the latter, it happened when the kids and I were all on the road. I remember nearing the exit of the base, when I saw a neighbor’s flag still up and decided to take it down for them. Low and behold, the tornado passed by us from the direction of the exit! Our guardian angels were definitely clocked in that day, but it reminded us to be better prepared for the next disaster.
According to a survey by Harvard University, 40.4 percent of American citizens are at average or higher risk of being a fatality. And with recent tragedies like the Oklahoma tornados and Colorado fires, it puts it in perspective. Here are a few ways you can get prepared for a flood, fire, storm or other disaster:
- Stockpile supplies: You don’t have to be paranoid to be ready for an emergency. Stockpiling an adequate supply of non-perishable food and medications can be vital if you’re trapped for any length of time due to a hurricane, winter storm or other long-term disaster. Create a budget for emergencies and shop smart to save big on duplicate items you’ll need.
- Get tech-savvy: True, you may not be able to connect to the Internet during a disaster, but your computer or smartphone can actually help. USAA has a great list of apps for situations like this, such as a CPR instruction app and a flashlight app. You can also sign up for weather text alerts, plus you can back-up files and insurance documents on your computer via sites like Dropbox and Google Drive.
- Invest in a shelter: If you’re one of the six percent of the population living in a high-risk area, you should especially consider a shelter or safe house. Even if you don’t, now might be a good time to take the extra precaution, as some counties offer rebates up to $3,000. Do some research and see if you qualify before you decide.
- Have your insurance in order: Are you covered for a fire? How about a flood? An earthquake? You don’t want to wait until you file a claim to see if your insurance will pay for your loss. USAA, Allstate and State Farm are among the most popular and highest-rated by customers for homeowner’s insurance, so it might be wise to check them out.
- Know the facts: You probably know you shouldn’t drive during a tornado or wait out a hurricane, but what about other disasters? Knowing the steps for preparation and recovery can save you money and possibly your life. USAA is also a great resource for doing research on this.
Don’t let disaster catch you unawares; it’s better to hope for the best, but plan for the worse. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that when you trust your intuition and do your research, you’ll be prepared when the storm hits.
What are YOU doing to prepare?