Natural disasters. The United States has experienced plenty of them these past few years. Wild fires. Hurricanes. Tornadoes. High-wind storms. Floods. The U.S. has been hit hard.

First and foremost, the most important thing you can do in the event of a natural disaster is to protect you and your family.

Although forewarning of an earthquake is non-existent, we do have warning systems in place for weather- and fire-related events. Listen to local news or weather channel…and heed the advice. If warnings to take necessary safety precautions are being broadcast…do it. Don’t try to wait out the storm. Don’t forget… it’s better to be safe than sorry.

One step you can take to keep you and your family safe is to develop a disaster plan now—before disaster hits. Know where the safest place is in your home. In the event of a hurricane or fire, select a place outside Mother Nature’s reach for your family to meet.

If seeking refuge outside your home is impossible, be sure to have emergency supplies on hand, such as flashlights, batteries, portable radios and/or television, water, and food staples.

After ensuring a good, workable disaster plan is in place, your next move is to study your homeowner’s insurance policy. Does it cover wind damage? Does it cover water damage? Be sure to check with your insurance agent about what is and isn’t covered in your policy. You may want to increase the coverage and coverage amounts.

So you and your family have a plan, and you have plenty of insurance coverage. But what about your house? Is your house … the structure itself … fortified to withstand high winds? Believe it or not, even after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, coastal residents still have not taken steps to protect themselves from high-wind storms. According to a survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling, 60 percent of residents living near the Atlantic or Gulf coasts have no disaster plan, and 83 percent have not fortified their homes.

After the numerous weather-related disasters the United States has experienced recently, this is not the time to be lulled into thinking, “It couldn’t happen to me.”

Prepare Now to Protect You and Your Family:

  1. Set a family strategy
  2. Review insurance policies
  3. Practice emergency safety
  4. Make a home inventory
  5. Pack vital supplies
  6. Assemble a first aid kit
  7. Map out escape routes
  8. Safeguard documents