Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Family Safety: How To Prepare For A Natural Disaster

A natural disaster can be an unexpected and often life-threatening situation for a family. Many of the comforts and services people take for granted are suddenly gone when a natural disaster strikes. Being prepared for disasters helps to lessen the impact they have and may even be the difference between life and death.

Prepare and Secure Insurance and Personal Information

Natural disasters are likely to cause severe damage or loss to personal property, especially a home and everything inside. Most insurance plans cover natural disasters, but that coverage only works properly if a homeowner prepares to file a complete claim. This mostly involves proving that lost assets really did exist, so they can be added to a claim without hassle.

The best way is to take a full inventory of everything in a house, including pictures for most of the items, especially if they are valuable. Keep these records and all other important documents in a waterproof and fireproof container or safe. It is good to have all of the information you need in a flash drive for easy and complete access as well as paper records. Flashdrive memory isn’t perfect and can degrade or be lost over time.

Many people store these records in a safe deposit box or similar third party secure storage. This may seem smart, but it is actually not the best thing to do. In a natural disaster, these facilities may be inaccessible or not operational. It is best to keep the records stored at home or in a secure location you know you will be able to access in almost all circumstances.

Stock Supplies and Equipment

Every household should have a secure stock of emergency supplies and equipment. This includes plenty of water, non-perishable food, flashlights and radios, spare blankets and clothes, basic medical supplies and other important items. Especially important to include are additional doses of any prescriptions of vital medications family members may need.

It is also important to ensure that this stock remains in good condition. While most food items will last, be sure to check the stock at least once a year and update anything that has expired or been damaged. Batteries will discharge even when left unused, so be sure to check all electronic devices and swap the batteries at least every few years.

Waterproof Your Home

The majority of natural disasters involve water of some kind. This could include severe storms and flooding, but even earthquakes may result in water damage because water lines are broken and repairs are delayed. The best way to protect a home in this situation is to ensure it is waterproof, especially in the basement. Services such as John’s Waterproofing can prepare a basement or home for flooding and ensure that damage is minimal. Flood protection may involve a variety of additions or measures such as sump pumps, flood vents and drainage systems.

Create a Disaster Plan

A major part of preparation is ensuring that every family member knows what to do when disaster strikes. It is likely that family members may be separated or not at home at the time. Each person should have memorized an emergency contact number and a planned meeting location in case other family members can’t be reached. It is very likely that cell phone service will be down or overloaded during an emergency, so don’t rely on phone contact.

It is suggested that an emergency contact person be selected who is not in the same geographic areas as your family. This could include a relative or friend in a different state or city. This person may be better able to coordinate with family members and help them follow the plan since they are removed from the emergency and may be easier to contact.

With the right preparation, a natural disaster can be overcome with the least cost and risk to life and property. Dealing with disasters is never easy, but life can be put back in order quickly if damage is minimized by the right plan and preparation.

Tim Esterdahl

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