No matter where you are in the country, there are various hazards that you need to be ready to face, such as earthquakes, tornados, fires, power outages, severe storms, and more. While your municipality may have emergency plans prepared, you’ll also need to prepare yourself and your property in case a natural disaster hits.
In the case of a disaster, you could be without power, water, and telephone service for a significant amount of time. You’ll also be unable to go to the stores and may even be without emergency services. Having a plan for this scenario is vital for you, your family, and, your employees if you’re a business owner.
How to prepare your property before a natural disaster
There are many things you can do to help prepare your property before a natural disaster strikes. Doing this can help you stay safe and recover quickly after the worst has passed. Here are some of the steps you should take in and around your home or office to prepare.
- Develop an exit strategy with the members of your household or office. Be sure that everyone knows the ways out and where to meet when they get out safely. Consider having two meetup locations. One can be directly outside your home or office if it is safe to do so. However, an alternative site is helpful if the building is unsafe and you need to be further away. Once you have a plan, hold practice sessions so that everyone knows what to do.
- Build an emergency kit with essential items you’ll need in case of disaster. This can include warm clothing and blankets, first aid items, flashlights, candles, matches, radio, food, and water, and more. Keep this stash of emergency items in an easy-to-access place, and be sure that others know where to find it in case you are not there to help.
- Even before a disaster is on the radar, it’s a good idea to create a list of your belongings and photographs for insurance purposes. Keep these documents in a safe place.
- Businesses can create a disaster recovery plan or business continuity plan that will help them get up and running quickly following a natural disaster.
- It’s also a good idea to appoint someone from outside your geographical area as a contact person. They can act as your link to family and friends during disasters. In this way, you won’t need to make several calls, but only let your contact person know what is happening and whether you are safe. They can then share the news with your loved ones.
What To Do When Disaster Strikes
If you are in the middle of a natural disaster, you’ll need to stay calm and not panic. This helps you maneuver the next few minutes safely. Stop whatever you are doing when you first become aware of the danger. Carefully assess the situation before determining your next move. If it is safe and you have a radio nearby, turn it on to listen for instructions.
Once you determine it is safe to move around, start examining your surroundings for damage. Using a flashlight, look for water damage, broken electrical wiring, or damaged sewage lines. If you smell gas in the area, you’ll need to leave quickly. Report potential leaks to your utility company once you have safely left the area.
After you have inspected the inside of your home or office, look around outside for any damage you’ll need to report. This includes broken roads or streets and power lines that have fallen.
You’ll also need to decide if the situation calls for you to head to a shelter or stay at your home. Municipalities will have several shelters set up for disasters. You can find out where the closest one is by listening to the radio or, if possible, going online to search.
Some disasters require different responses, such as:
In an earthquake, drop down and take cover under a table or piece of furniture. Cover your neck and head to protect it, and don’t move until the shaking stops. Aftershocks are common following an earthquake, and if you feel them, get down again and take cover until it stops.
If there is a fire in your home or office, you need to find the safest and quickest way to exit the building. Once you’re safe, call emergency services for help. Don’t forget that if your clothing catches fire, Stop-Drop- and roll until the flames have been smothered.
It’s essential to turn off appliances, devices, and lights if there is a power outage. Be cautious if you’re using candles or open flames as a light source. Once your power comes back on, do a quick walk-through of your home or office to ensure the appliances are off.
In case of flooding, you need to be cautious of landslides and water overflowing from streams and the sewers. Avoid powerlines that have fallen. Don’t attempt to walk or play around collected pools of water. Do not try to drive through these areas. Rather, seek higher ground until the disaster has passed.
Cleaning up after a disaster
After the danger has passed, you’ll likely have a significant clean-up job to do. While you might be able to handle some of the work on your own, it’s best if you leave the work to professionals like FIRESTONE Restoration. We recommend that you reach out to a contractor first that you trust and are comfortable working with.
Some of the clean up needed after a disaster includes:
- Moving heavy items
- Picking up broken glass, other items
- Removal and cleanup of floodwaters
- Sanitization of homes or office spaces
Depending on the disaster, you may not be permitted back into your home until the debris has been cleared. This is always done for safety reasons, and you should follow the advice of authorities.
It’s never fun to think of the damage a natural disaster could have, but if you are prepared ahead of time, you’ll be able to come through it. When the danger has passed, and it’s time to clean up, FIRESTONE Restoration will be there for you.