This year, disasters across the country caused immeasurable damage to property and lives. Tornadoes ripped through Kentucky, hurricane season was the third strongest on record, wildfires were more frequent and COVID-19 variants created new uncertainty.
As you plan out the new year, you should take potential emergencies like these into consideration. We put together four reasons it’s important to be ready – and what you can do to resolve to be ready this year.
1. Disasters are becoming more frequent.
The growing threat of climate change brings more severe weather and disasters. The impacts of climate change are being felt all across the country. Preparing for the increased frequency of threats will help you make your home more resilient, as well as help you learn how best to respond and react when the time comes. Two easy ways to prepare for severe weather include signing up for emergency alerts and knowing what risks are high in your area.
You can use the National Risk Index tool to find and better understand the risks that threaten your community. Once you know which disasters you may need to plan for, it’s a good idea to go to Ready.gov to read more about them. Additionally, you will want to monitor the news and sign up for emergency alerts and download the FEMA app so you’re never surprised when bad weather is on the way. Having the ability to receive warnings and alerts at any time of the day are especially important when hazards such as tornadoes unexpectedly and quickly develop in the middle of the night.
2. A plan can save the lives of you, your family and your pets.
When disaster strikes, it can feel like you don’t have control over the situation. Often, things will be chaotic and hard to navigate.
Knowing ahead of time how you will respond during a disaster will take away some of the fear and uncertainty you may feel during it. Your family may not be together when an emergency happens, so it’s important to sit down with them to make a plan. Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find. Your pet is an important member of your family, so you’ll want to plan for them too!
After an emergency, you may need to survive for several days on your own, with extremely limited access to resources. That’s why it’s important to include an emergency kit in your plan and assemble it so it’s ready to be used at any time. These portable kits should include food, water, medications, prescriptions, cash, radios, flashlights and other necessities.
3. Preparing can save you money.
There are many things you can do to prepare your finances for a disaster. While making a financial plan, you may want to save up an emergency fund and check your insurance to see what type of damage it covers.
Do you have flood insurance? Often, this type of insurance is not included in your homeowners insurance but flooding can cause thousands and thousands of dollars in damages to your home.
Use the financial checklist in our Emergency Financial First Aid Kit to determine what else you need to do to prepare financially for an emergency.
4. Preparing can better connect you with your community.
Some resources that help you prepare for and recover from disasters can be found in your community. This can be a great way to connect with your neighbors.
You can use the opportunity to coordinate plans and more actively look out for one another. You can also look to your local emergency managers to learn more about what planning your community is doing to prepare and the resources available to you in case of emergency. You can join a local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) program to get trained on basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations. CERT members are important members of the community that increase the safety and resilience of where you live.
As you enter the new year, committing to just one preparedness step can make a big difference in how you respond and recover to a disaster. Visit Ready.gov/resolution for more information on how you can resolve to be ready.