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What to do in a Natural Disaster

Nobody wants to think of the possibility of a natural disaster and its long-term effects. The fact is that most people will never experience the devastation that natural disasters can bring, however, while statistics may ease the mind of the general population, there is nothing more comforting that being prepared in case of a disaster.

Between tornadoes, hurricanes and tsunamis, earthquakes, flooding and fires, the toll of these disastrous situations makes headlines daily. FEMA is a Homeland Security agency that offers advice on the best practices to follow in case of an emergency or disaster, in cooperation with state and local emergency management and public safety agencies, 27 federal agencies and the American Red Cross.

Being prepared for a natural disaster involves several different aspects. Vital records, such as birth certificates, marriage licenses, social security cards and insurance documents should all be kept in a safe place. It is possible to scan and upload these documents to a third-party service, making them accessible through the Internet in case the paper versions are affected by the disaster. Knowing the best evacuation routes can save time and frustration if and when a disaster strikes, as well, and having a centralized meeting place for families can save time and worry.

Disaster kits are also recommended for the home, work and even the car. These kits include supplies like water (one gallon per person, per day), canned food and a manual can opener, a battery-powered radio, flashlights and batteries, first aid kits, extra medication, spare glasses or other medical supplies, clothing, hygiene supplies, spare cash and other family-specific items. Always store these supplies in a sealed container within easy reach in case an immediate evacuation is necessary.


For parents, knowing the emergency plan of a child’s school or the community disaster plan put in place by public safety or law enforcement officers can ease fears when facing a disaster. If a school has a “shelter-in-place” policy, parents may not be allowed to retrieve children during a disaster as a preventative measure to keep children and school staff safe. Work environments may also have similar policies for employees. Know the policies of local law and public safety officers, employers and schools and plan accordingly.

A natural disaster cannot necessarily be avoided, but the outcome can be greatly improved with the right preparation. Always be sure to keep personal, vital records in place, know the emergency evacuation routes and plans of schools and employers and keep the necessary supplies on hand and in one location to ease the effects of a natural disaster.

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