(BPT) - Whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes or snowstorms, natural disasters can occur anywhere at any time. When they do, it’s often sudden, so being prepared ahead of time is key. However, only 39% of Americans are prepared for an unexpected natural disaster, according to a study by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“It’s important to always follow official evacuation orders. But if you are able to remain in the home, amplifying your safety now can help you and your family keep calm during an emergency,” said Tarsila Wey, director of marketing for First Alert. “Save yourself from potential stress by taking these steps to prepare for any natural disaster.”
Plan for a natural disaster. Emergency disaster drills are often conducted in schools, but rarely in the home. Plan for potential emergencies with your family before they strike. To stay safe during a tornado, for example, have your family choose a windowless safe room in your home and designate a family member to open windows. For added protection get under something sturdy, such as a heavy table, or cover your body with a mattress.
Create an emergency disaster kit. Keep a well-stocked emergency disaster kit ready at all times. Fill your kit with first aid items such as bandages, gauze, tweezers and cleansing wipes. Additionally, include a flashlight, transistor radio, a portable phone charger, extra batteries, a fire extinguisher and enough bottled water and perishable food items to last at least 72 hours.
Help protect your home and family. Natural disasters can cause long-lasting power outages and lead to a spike in carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning incidents, often because of improper generator use. It is extremely important to never leave your generator inside your home or the garage, as they are a source of CO. CO is an odorless and colorless gas, making it impossible to detect without an alarm. To protect your family from the threats of smoke, fire and CO, consider installing a First Alert Combination Smoke and CO Alarm with a 10-year sealed battery, which eliminates the need to replace batteries for the life of the alarm. Test your alarms monthly and be sure all smoke and CO alarms have a battery backup if hardwired. Install alarms on each level of the home and near every sleeping area.
Know fire safety. Damaged powerlines, gas lines and other electrical systems pose a dangerous fire threat. If a powerline falls, don’t move or drive over it and immediately contact local authorities. Another potential danger is using candles during a power outage. Never leave any open flames unattended. In the event of a fire, a well-planned and practiced escape plan will be invaluable. To design a fire escape plan, identify multiple exits out of each room and choose a meeting spot for your family away from the home. Practice this plan at least twice a year.
Store your valuables safely. Important documents such as insurance papers, birth certificates and passports are necessary when dealing with the aftermath of a disaster, so be sure they are safely stored. For maximum security, protect these documents as well as any family heirlooms or prized possessions by storing them in a waterproof and fire resistant safe.
“Being prepared for extreme weather often isn’t on a homeowner’s mind until it’s too late,” said Wey. “Make safety a priority in your home by planning for any natural disaster so that your family and your property are as protected as possible.”
For more information, visit www.firstalert.com.