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Top 5 Things to Do

You don't ever want to assume that the worst will happen to you or your family in a natural disaster, but you do want to be prepared no matter what happens. Here are the five most important things to do to prepare for a natural disaster.

1. Make a disaster kit.

It may evoke images of Cold War paranoia, but natural disasters are a real and universal danger. Devote 30 minutes to making a kit with food, water and supplies for you and your family (and pets) to weather any flood, storm, earthquake or wildfire for at least three days. You should also have copies of important documents in this kit. Check out our email tips for a complete listing of contents for your kit.

2. Have a plan.

You don't want to be caught in the middle of a hurricane or a wildfire without a plan to meet up with your family at a safe location. Designate a local meeting place that everyone in your family can access, and make sure all family members have important emergency contact numbers handy.

3. Get insurance coverage.

You may have heard some insurance horror stories, but yours can be a success story. Make sure you have the proper insurance coverage as it applies to the potential threats you face. Anyone along the Eastern seaboard should probably have hurricane and flood coverage, while the Midwest should have wind and fire coverage. Your insurance agent can tailor your policy to your specific circumstances.

4. Stay informed.

Whether you're preparing or recovering from a disaster, information is your ally. Before it hits, get as much information as you can about how you can prepare and what to do when disaster strikes. After the disaster, make sure you are near a TV or a radio at all times for updates on local emergency management and any additional threats.

5. Don’t wait.

Prepare now for a natural disaster, because it really can happen at any time. And when something does happen, don’t wait till the last minute to evacuate. The last thing you want to happen is to be out in the elements in the middle of a disaster. Heed the warnings, no matter how much you think it doesn't apply to you.

Posted: 7/31/08