Disasters happen. The wildfires and hurricanes taking place across the country have been devastating. In the Midwest, Wisconsin recorded 17 tornados and flooding from just one storm system on August 8, 2018. In 2015, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reported that 80 percent of Americans live in counties that have been hit by a weather-related disaster. Yet, only 39 percent of Americans surveyed stated that they had developed an emergency plan beforehand.

Preparing for any potential risk can mean all the difference in the event of a crisis. That’s why, in honor of National Preparedness Month, we have put together a few tips on how to equip yourself for the worst so that you and your family can stay safe during a natural disaster.

Prepare an emergency outage kit

Stock an emergency kit and store it in a known, safe location. An easily-accessible spot in the basement or an interior room is ideal. Think about where your family would go if there was a tornado in your area.  Recommended items stored in an emergency kit are:

  • Flashlight
  • Important documents
  • Portable chargers
  • Medication
  • Cash
  • First aid kit
  • Radio
  • Non-perishable food (peanut butter, canned tuna, crackers, granola bars)
  • Utensils to prepare meals (can opener, knives, napkins, etc.)
  • Bottled water
  • Batteries for your flashlights and radios
  • Pet food
  • Leashes, collars or travel cases for family pets

Make a family plan

Having a plan of action is the only way to prepare for the unexpected. Communicating with your family about how to receive emergency alerts, where to seek shelter, as well as how to evacuate home, school and work can help your family act quickly and effectively.

You and your loved ones may not be together when a disaster occurs. Knowing how to contact each other and establishing a physical place to meet can help you all regroup efficiently. Don’t assume that you can make phone calls during an emergency. Phone lines and mobile networks may become overwhelmed. Using text messaging, social media and/or email may be the best way for you to get in contact – but even those networks become unreliable after major disasters.

Stay up to date

A simple yet effective way to prepare for a disaster is to update your phone number and email address with your electric company. During a storm, power outages are likely. By updating your information, the electric company can serve you faster and more efficiently.

While no one wishes to experience a natural disaster, being proactive can help you and your loved ones stay as safe as possible during such an event. Follow these tips and research more ways to prepare this National Preparedness Month!