We are in the middle of the hurricane season. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15th to November 30th. NOAA says to expect an “above-normal” hurricane season this year. The peak months of the hurricane season, August through October, are now underway.
The Southern Plains tornado season is during May into early June. This year, the U.S. Forest Service and Interior Department warns that wild fires will probably be worse than last year, which killed hundreds of people and caused billions of dollars in damages. Already, major fires have happened from California to the northern areas of British Columbia. The forecast is for fires to continue all the way into October. Clearly, weather disasters aren’t limited to winter storms.
Are you and your family prepared to weather a disaster?
A slightly dated Time magazine poll shows that 56% of us have survived a major disaster at one time or another. Still, only 16% of us think we are well prepared for when the next one strikes us personally. There are two areas in your life that you should take action now to be more prepared. First, the basics of survival – food, clean water, medicine, clothing, battery-operated radio, and a plan. Second, safeguarding your most prized possessions.
Regardless of where you live, we have the technology and knowledge to accurately predict dangerous tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms, floods, and other disasters. We know which areas are prone to earthquakes, the areas susceptible to wildfires, and we know hours in advance whether a tsunami will hit our shores. While every disaster brings unique challenges, basic survival generally remains the same for each.
Too many people don’t keep a several day supply of food and water on hand. With a few hours of warning, you could be one of the many thousands rushing to the store to stock up before disaster strikes. Besides avoiding the traffic jam in the canned goods aisle, keep in mind that community stores only have a three-day supply of food and other essentials on hand. You should already have your own three-day supply of nonperishable foods like ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits, vegetables along with a can opener, protein/fruit bars, dry cereal/granola, peanut butter, nuts, canned juice, nonperishable milk, and food for infants. It’s not a bad idea to include some nonperishable comfort foods like chocolate and cookies.
At the first indication of a pending disaster, check your critical medicine supply, contact your doctor, and refill prescriptions if needed. It’s a good idea to have a book or two about field medicine. Read it beforehand so that you know what emergency medical supplies to have on hand. It might not be a survival need but you should have a family escape plan. A plan that includes how to get out of a disaster area and where you plan to meet. Local telephone service is often one of the first casualties of a disaster. Have a relative at a distant location that your family can check in with to share information. Finally, check with your local Red Cross or other community services for plans specific to your location and the types of disasters most likely to occur.
Most people have family photos, personal memorabilia, jewelry, art, and collectibles on display in their homes. You should have a plan to quickly safeguard these items in the event of an emergency. Things like photos, insurance policies, and videos of all your belongings can be digitized and kept at a safe location well ahead of time.
Very few people understand what is covered in their legalese written insurance documents. Talk to your agent now to understand what is covered and update policies if needed. Other things to take care of ahead of time include:
Disasters happen. The best thing you can do is be prepare for these events. Even a little preparation makes a big difference. Please share your disaster survival plans by leaving a comment. Also, our weekly Ask Brian column welcomes questions from readers of all experience levels with residential real estate. Please email your questions, inquiries, or article ideas to [email protected].