If we’ve learned anything over the last few years, it’s that we never know what’s right around the corner. We’ve experienced many surprises and know disasters are at their worst when they catch us by surprise. The good news is we can create a plan to prepare for disasters before they strike. For National Preparedness Month, we’re providing a step-by-step guide on how to create a plan to make sure you and your family are equipped to handle any situation thrown your way.

Step 1: Know your area

Each region throughout the country can be affected by different types of emergencies. Californians should prepare for earthquakes and Floridians should prepare for hurricanes. Meanwhile, Michiganders need to know what to do in case of severe thunderstorms, blistering cold and snow. Knowing what types of disasters can affect your area can help you prepare accordingly.

As for pandemics, always follow health and safety instructions passed down from leadership. Respect other people’s safety by adhering to guidelines, and look out for one another in a time of great uncertainty and stress.

Step 2: Consider your household needs

In addition to the region you live in, knowing your household’s specific needs is important when creating a plan. Consider your family, pets, living conditions, medications, valuables, etc. when developing your plan.

Step 3: Make sure everyone in your family is on the same page

Making sure everyone knows what to do when an emergency strikes can greatly reduce safety hazards and stress. Your family should know beforehand where to seek shelter, what their evacuation route is and how you will communicate with each other if everyone is not in the same location.

Step 4: Practice makes perfect

You’ve thought through all factors and communicated your plan with your family. Now all that’s left to do is practice. Run through some mock scenarios with your family to make sure you’re ready to go if needed.

Whether you’re dealing with severe thunderstorms, tornadoes or extreme temperatures, having a plan in place will assure you and your family are prepared for any scenario.

For more tips and information on the best ways to make a plan to stay prepared, visit www.ready.gov/make-a-plan.

Check out our other National Preparedness blogs like how to financially prepare for emergencies and how to get involved in your community.