This week’s theme for National Preparedness Month is to prepare your family and friends for an emergency situation.  In a disaster setting it is vital that your family knows how to reach you and what to do to ensure their own safety. Disasters, natural or man-made, can happen without notice leaving your family and friends vulnerable to many dangers. Making a plan in advance, and practicing that plan can help organize an otherwise chaotic situation. Here are some of our tips on how to do just that:

Prepare Family & Friends for DisasterSet up ways to receive emergency alerts and warnings.

  • Many local police stations, fire departments, news, radio, and television stations offer opt-in public alert systems. Simply look up via search engine your city, state and the word ‘alerts’ to learn how to sign up for these services.
  • Download mobile applications to your smart phone or tablet device.

Have a communications plan ready, written, and practiced beforehand.

  • Have a designated safe location where your family or friends will meet in the event of a disaster.
    • Be sure to plan different safe locations depending on where you may be (for instance at home, school, daycare, work, etc.).
  • Plan for power outages or for a lack of cell service by having a back-up communications plan.
  • Have important contact information hung in a visible area of your home such as the refrigerator, for family members to access.
    • Do not store important contact information only in your phone. Have the numbers written down and on you and on your child at all times (in child’s book bag and in your wallet).

Prepare for unique needs – infants, elderly, disabled, medical needs, pets, etc.

  • Infants - Be sure to have hearty supply of formula, baby food, diapers, and extra clothing as newborns are especially vulnerable during times of disaster.
  • Elderly – Be sure the older generations in your network have a disaster plan that works for their unique needs.
  • Disabled - Those with disabilities such as hard of hearing, blindness, or those in a wheelchair may need supplemental amenities and may require extra help.
    • Plan ahead for accessible transportation and communication methods.
  • Be sure to have back-up medications and/or refills to last an adequate amount of time in case pharmacies or doctor’s offices are closed.
    • This is especially important for those who require life-dependent medical needs such as insulin, epi-pens, dialysis, oxygen, etc.
  • Include your pet(s) in your disaster plan – after all, they’re family too!

Be ready to talk to your children about disasters that can frequent your area.

  • House Fire Preparing Family & FriendsTalk to children about potential disasters that could affect your area so they can be prepared and not caught off guard.
    • For instance, if you live in the Midwest, you should familiarize your child with tornadoes - what they are and what to do in a tornado-situation; same goes for those who live on the coast and experience hurricanes.
  • Use this opportunity to educate your child on the necessities that will help them prepare and feel more comfortable should a disaster such as this occur.
    • has a great section on their website for kids that allow them to play games and other kid-friendly activities to help prepare.

Have a plan with your children’s school, coaches, and after-school programs.

  • Disasters can happen at inopportune times when you may not be physically present with your child. Be sure to plan for occurrences such as this and have a way to communicate and a prepared plan for your child no matter where they are located.

Protect your property.

  • One especially useful way to keep your family safe during a disaster is by protecting your property as much as possible in advance.
  • Take precautions such as:
    • Boarding up windows
    • Bring outdoor furniture indoors or anchor it into the ground
    • Cleaning gutters
    • Cutting down loose limbs from trees
    • Elevating expensive items such as appliances (for flood situations)
    • Fixing any cracks or leaks found in the foundation of your property
    • Removing fire hazards such as debris from your lawn, flammable materials such as oil and paint thinners, etc.
    • Use a tarp to cover any areas that will be exposed to the elements that may be under construction or in repairs
    • And many more.
  • Contact your broker to be sure your insurance policy includes coverages and endorsements for disasters that frequent your area.

Listen to our podcast on "Expecting the Unexpected - Surviving Disasters" for preparedness tips:

Visit our podcast section to view all episodes of Property Insurance Roundtable.

For additional preparedness tips, check out: