Updated March 5, 2017 . AmFam Team
It can feel a bit strange to prepare for natural disasters you’re not sure will ever occur — but it’s actually one of the smartest things you can do for your family. And the best part? It doesn’t require all that much work or energy. Try these tips to prepare your family for the unexpected.
Know what you have. Update your home inventory once a year — like during spring cleaning — to make sure you and your insurance agent have the most up-to-date information. Make it even easier and use our home inventory spreadsheet (Opens in a new tab).
Different disasters, different plans. Not all disasters have the same procedures. Consider the differences between a tornado, where you bunker down in the safest place in your home, and a hurricane, where you may have to evacuate. Plan for and practice your disaster procedures for every circumstance. Then, if the time ever comes, everyone is ready to jump into action.
Get a lock box. Store important information such as emergency phone numbers, safe deposit key, name of your attorney, insurance policies and contacts, birth certificates, passports, bank account records, credit card numbers and contact info, treasury bonds and other investment documents as well as valuable jewelry in a indestructible (waterproof, fire-proof, reinforced) container.
Inform your kids. Tell your family where to find that container should anything happen. You can also store the documents on your smart phone, but it’s a good idea to keep hard copies in case electricity is unavailable when you need that information.
Back it up. Store photos and computer data on a memory stick or the cloud, so you’ll still have them if your computer and/or hard copies are destroyed.
Backup power. Consider installing a generator if losing power is a reasonable threat to your safety, like losing heat in cold weather.
Assign a contact. Choose a person who lives out of the state for each family member to contact when they’re safe, as recommended by the American Red Cross Safe and Well program. Challenge everyone to memorize this person’s phone number.
Be ready to give aid. Have everyone learn how to perform CPR and basic first aid. It’s a great idea to keep a kit handy in your car and home.
Keep a safe stash. Pack a Natural Disaster Supply Kit in a plastic tub, suitcase or duffle bag that best fits your family. Include food and water, a change of clothing, first aid supplies and communication tools. A thoughtful kit will get you through a situation where you have to shelter in place — like a tornado — and it will be your grab-and-go backup if you need to evacuate for a hurricane or wildfire.
Contact your agent. Check to see if your homeowners insurance policies cover the natural disasters that are most common in your area. Remember, your American Family Insurance (Opens in a new tab) agent is always ready to help you take the steps to prepare and protect your family.