September is National Preparedness Month — Are You Ready?
In many households, September marks a welcome return to routines and the chance to tackle organizational tasks that might have been overlooked in the summer. The fact that September is also National Preparedness Month makes it the ideal opportunity to take important steps to ensure you and your family are prepared for an emergency.
It’s likely you have some work to do: According to an annual survey the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) conducts to measure household and individual preparedness, only 44% of respondents said they were prepared for a disaster in 2021, down from a high of 59% in 2019.
While different regions are more prone to certain types of natural disasters, there are some general steps everyone should take to be as prepared as possible for a crisis. Here’s what you can do today to safeguard you and your family tomorrow.
1. Know your getaway route or safe space
When your main road is impassable due to a flash flood or downed tree, it’s not the time to research your best alternate evacuation route. Explore multiple ways to get out of your neighborhood and share them with the whole family. And if the disaster is one where you need to shelter in place, such as a tornado, identify the best places in your home, like a basement or under a stairwell.
2. Prepare a family plan
This template, created by FEMA, is a handy guide for the types of information to cover. First you’ll want a communication plan so family members know whom to contact should you be separated when disaster strikes. An out-of-town contact is best since local phone systems are likely to be overwhelmed, making that person potentially easier to reach. Then designate a meeting spot where you will convene when you can, such as at a friend’s home in another town, for example. You should also review evacuation and sheltering plans so everyone knows how to stay as safe as possible.
3. Store adequate provisions
Create a supply kit in an easy-to-carry container and let the family know its location. This post from Ready.gov has a great list of recommended items, including medications and medical supplies, food and water (don’t forget your pets’ needs!), copies of your ID and other important papers, and more. You can make mini versions to stash in cars, school lockers, and office desk drawers so you have supplies no matter where you are when disaster hits. Remember to update the items regularly.
4. Be prepared to stay updated on breaking news
If you don’t know what’s going on in your local area, you might not be clear on how imminent or widespread a threat is. Now’s the time to compile a list of useful Twitter accounts, such as your local city, police, and fire departments, news stations, and national organizations like FEMA and Ready.gov. These will keep you alerted to the current status and share important messages about when to consider leaving and what to do in the aftermath. You also should have a hand-crank or battery-style radio station in case your power goes out.
5. Make a checklist for securing your home
In the case of an evacuation, you want to leave your home as protected as possible, but it can be easy to overlook necessary steps when you’re in a panic. Have a checklist handy that includes actions you’ll want to take on short notice; for example:
- Lock doors and windows
- Unplug small appliances and electronic equipment
- Turn off water, gas, and electricity prior to leaving if instructed
- Secure items that could blow around and cause further harm or damage
- Move valuables to higher floors in the case of a flood
- Cover items in heavy blankets or plastic covers as extra protection
- Look in on elderly neighbors or others who may need assistance
- Other tasks specific to your emergency and situation
6. Review your insurance coverage
Take a look at your policy to ensure you’re covered against catastrophic events, and up your coverage, if necessary. (Matic can help you compare plans.) Don’t want until a disaster strikes to take action — understanding your coverage now is key to avoiding serious financial trouble in the future. Insurance policies often have specific rules and exceptions, so it’s important to pay attention to the details.
As an example, most home insurance policies cover damage from strong winds, including hurricane damage. In some states, however, there may be a specific hurricane deductible (known officially as a “named storm” deductible) which can be higher than your standard deductible. Another exception is flooding — most homeowners insurance policies do not cover flood damage from a hurricane, so you’ll need a separate flood insurance policy.
This is also a good time to take an inventory of your home and belongings. With photo and video evidence, along with receipts, you are more likely to get reimbursed in a timely manner for the purchase of replacement items. While you’re at it, note furniture, mirrors, and other items that should be secured and put that on your project list.
If you’re a Matic policyholder, our customer service team can help you understand your coverage and any confusing information about your policy.
7. Prepare for disasters specific to your area
As mentioned, various regions of the country are more apt to have different types of weather events. Here are articles with more information on how to assess your risk and tips geared specifically toward particular natural disasters. Read up on the ones most applicable to you so you are as prepared as possible.
Having the right insurance coverage gives you peace of mind in situations where your home and valuables are at risk. Visit Matic today to compare policies so you can be sure your home and possessions are protected.
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