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How to prepare for a natural disaster

There are 10 steps you can take now

September is National Preparedness Month, so get your household ready for an emergency. This is the time of year when hurricanes, floods, wildfires and other large disasters can happen. People should take steps now to be ready if an emergency occurs, urges the American Red Cross.

Whether the emergency is a home fire or something bigger like a hurricane, the situation may force you to leave your home. There are 10 steps you can take now to be prepared if the emergency makes it unsafe to remain at home.

  1. Follow the instructions of officials and evacuate if told to do so.
  2. Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  3. Remember you may have to get out on foot depending on the type of disaster. If you don’t have a car, or can’t use your vehicle, plan on how you will leave the area.
  4. If you have a car, keep the gas tank full if an evacuation order is possible. Don’t let the tank go below half full in case gas stations are unable to pump gas.
  5. Decide where you would go and what route you would take to get there. This could be a motel, the home of a friend or relative a safe distance away, or an evacuation shelter.
  6. If you have time, let someone out of the region know you are evacuating and where you are going. Leave a note saying when you left and where you plan to go.
  7. Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection.
  8. Be alert for road hazards, such as downed trees or flooding. Do not drive onto a flooded road.
  9. Practice evacuating your home twice a year. Grab your emergency kit and drive your planned evacuation route. Include an alternate route in a different direction in case one is impassible. Make sure you have locations and maps saved on devices, such as cellphones and GPS units, and on paper.
  10. Don’t forget your pets. If it’s not safe for you to stay home, it’s not safe for them either. Prepare a phone list of pet-friendly motels and animal shelters located along your evacuation route. Keep in mind only service animals are usually allowed in shelters

Getting prepared is easier than it sounds. There are three basic steps.

  • Get a kit. Pack the following items in an easy-to-carry container – a gallon of water per person, per day; non-perishable food; flashlight and hand-crank or battery-powered radio; extra batteries; sanitation and personal hygiene items; copies of important papers; extra cash and any medical or baby supplies family members may need. See details here.
  • Make a plan. Have all members of your household help devise your emergency plan. Consider what emergencies could happen where you live; what to do if you are separated and how will you let loved ones know you are safe. Find details and templates here.
  • Be informed. Learn what disasters are common to your area. Find out how local authorities will let you know an emergency is happening. Make sure at least one household member is trained in first aid and CPR in case help is delayed during a disaster.

With labour day approaching, the Red Cross has various safety tips to follow, whether your plans include a road trip, water fun or a backyard barbecue.

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