According to the 2021 Farmer’s Almanac, this summer is projected to be hit with an above average frequency of thunderstorms across the United States. Depending on where you live, these storms could be severe enough to create tornadoes, earthquakes and other unsafe weather conditions, so it’s crucial to make advance preparations to mitigate the risks to your home, family, personal assets and overall well-being.
As this year’s storm season looms on the horizon, here are some helpful safety tips to follow in the event a natural disaster strikes. You cannot always predict when severe inclement weather might occur, but you can take the right precautions to be as ready as possible for whenever it does and hopefully avoid further crisis or damage.
Tune Into Both Local and National Weather Alerts.
While some natural disasters are unpredictable, modern technology makes it easier to stay informed of the severe weather forecasts in your area. Subscribe to mobile alerts and social media notifications from credible resources such as your local branch of the National Weather Service (NWS), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The more information you have at your fingertips, the more time you’ll have to prepare ahead of the storm itself.
Store an Emergency Kit in an Accessible Location.
Weather emergencies can often lead to power outages and the inability to leave home for supplies due to street flooding, fallen trees and other barricades. In the event you are stuck indoors without electricity in the aftermath of a storm, it’s important to have the right safety essentials on hand. Assemble an emergency kit in advance, then store it in a location that all members of your household know about and have access to. Below is a checklist of some basic items to include in this emergency kit:
- Nonperishable food and manual can opener
- One gallon of water for each person
- Pet food and water if you have animals
- Battery powered NOAA weather radio
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- One week supply of medications
- Bandages, ointment and first aid essentials
- Personal hygiene and sanitation products
- Solar powered mobile phone charger
- Protective thermal blanket
- Multipurpose tool (e.g. Swiss army knife)
- One set of house and car keys
Locate Shelters and Determine an Evacuation Plan.
Before any potential disasters strike, come together as a family and create an evacuation plan so that everyone is on the same page and knows how to respond if necessary. Discuss which rooms in your home are safe to take cover during a storm (i.e. windowless interior spaces) and designate a central location to meet if you evacuate but are separated for any reason. Make sure you all know where the closest public shelters are and map out a hardcopy evacuation route in case phones aren’t charged or data isn’t available.
Use Mobile Safety Apps to Contact Family Members.
If you lose track of family members due to severe weather, or you need to share updates with loved ones in another city or state, there are many virtual tools on which to communicate. The American Red Cross offers free mobile apps to connect with friends or family during hurricanes, tornadoes or earthquakes. The Life360 family network app also has a location share option to find each other’s whereabouts in an emergency. Facebook’s crisis response feature is a useful resource as well to mark yourself “safe” or request help.
Safeguard All Essential Documents and Valuables.
In case your home sustains damage, verify that all important documentation is secured in a weatherproof and water-resistant storage area. In addition, you’ll also want to ensure that electronic files of these documents are saved to the Cloud just in case the hardcopies are destroyed. Take the same precautions with any valuables or sentimental items too if you can—for example, convert family photos to a digital format. Here are some essential documents, records or valuables to protect in advance:
- Birth certificates and social security cards
- Passports and driver’s license photocopies
- Medical records and prescription forms
- Lease or mortgage documents and proof of address
- Home, vehicle and health insurance policies
- Tax returns and other financial records
- Family member and emergency contact information
- Wills, trusts and other legal documents
- Cash, jewelry, heirlooms, photos and collectibles
Trust the Professionals in Disaster Cleanup Relief.
If you do experience storm damage from water flooding, tornado or hurricane debris, and other natural disaster causes, immediate action is vital. The cleanup and restoration experts at SERVPRO are able to respond quickly to weather emergencies of any scale in order to repair the damage to your home or property. With thousands of franchises across the U.S., SERVPRO is on the frontlines of weather safety both this summer and all year long.