We have entered hurricane and disaster season. It’s a great time to make sure that you and your family have a disaster plan in place. No matter where you live, think about what disaster your area may be impacted by: hurricanes, flooding, tornados, wildfires, earthquakes, etc. If you would need to evacuate your home, discuss with your family where you would go for safety and how you would reunite if you were separated during the process.

Here are some tips on how to prepare for a disaster situation:

  • Have a meeting place at a safe distance outside your home or in your neighborhood.
  • Plan what your evacuation route would be if you were unable to return safely to your home.
  • Choose a designated meeting spot along that route where you could find one another if separated.
  • A backup power source for your cell phone may be helpful to allow you to find one another, especially if you may not all be leaving from home at the time of an evacuation.
  • Please follow mandatory evacuation procedures outlined by local authorities.
  • Make sure to have a safe plan for your pets.
  • Find out where a shelter or kennel is in the area you are evacuating to in case you would need to board them temporarily.
  • Keep at least a few days’ or a week’s supply of your medications to bring along if you need to leave quickly.
  • Most importantly, make sure you always have an up-to-date list of all your medications and dosages with you in case you aren’t able to bring them.
  • Having a list will help a physician order your prescriptions for you once you have arrived at your safe destination.
  • Including your medical history, allergies and contact information for your close family members is also a good idea so that emergency providers know how to safely help you if you were to suffer an injury or medical emergency during the evacuation.
  • Consider packing a small “Go Bag” with vital medications, drinking water, a few nonperishable food items, a small first-aid kit and a few articles of clothing to protect you from the elements.
  • If you wouldn’t plan to evacuate or would be unable to leave safely due to hazards on the route, have enough water and nonperishable food items to sustain you, your family and your pets for a few days.
  • Remember, the supply of clean water in your area could be disrupted, making your needs increase. Try to keep at least three days’ worth of bottled water with you.
  • Determine your first and alternate options of where you would stay: with a friend or relative or at a hotel or shelter.
  • Prepare for losing power and plan to know how you would manage the temperature.
  • Have flashlights or candles on hand, and don’t forget to be mindful of the risk of fire if using candles.
  • Avoid using an oven or stovetop for heat, as this can pose a dangerous risk of carbon monoxide exposure.
  • Consider a backup generator for your home if you live remotely where power may be disrupted for a prolonged period.
  • If you set up a generator, make sure that you are able to connect it outside your home or garage at a safe distance from windows.
  • Be careful of flooding.
  • Avoid downed power lines, as they carry the risk of electric shock or electrocution.
  • Use caution when using machinery to cut trees and other debris.
  • Do not enter your home if you smell gas.
  • Follow local authorities on when it is safe to use the water supply in your home.

While no one can ever be fully prepared for a disaster, creating an emergency plan and discussing it with your family can help to protect you and your loved ones, prevent unnecessary extra challenges and minimize stress and anxiety in times of crisis.