Natural disasters might be rare in Arizona, but they can strike any time, and often without warning. In 2015, at least one natural disaster – severe storm, tornado, wildfire, flood or earthquake – impacted every region in the United States.
If you aren’t prepared for a natural disaster, you aren’t alone. The majority of Americans – 60 percent – say they are not prepared for an event like an earthquake.
Preparation is key to surviving and recovering from a catastrophic event. AAA offers the following six tips to help you prepare for an emergency:
- Create disaster preparedness kits for your home, office and car. At minimum, your kit should include nonperishable food and water for each family member (enough for three days), a multipurpose tool, flashlight, hand-crank or battery-powered radio, batteries, extra cash, cell phone and charger, first-aid supplies, critical medications and basic personal hygiene products. Maps, blankets, shoes, flares and a basic toolkit are also useful for your car.
- Prepare a family communication plan. Make sure your family knows the warning signs of a potential disaster and when to take shelter. Depending on the disaster, identify where the shelters or safest places in your area may be and have several routes to get there in case roads are blocked. Make a plan for how you will communicate with family members in case you’re separated, and document critical information such as insurance and medical information. Practice your plan regularly, and keep instructions clear, simple and consistent.
- Plan for your pet. Make sure to have a pet emergency kit. Consider putting a pet rescue sticker in your front window to alert rescuers that animals may be trapped inside. If you have to evacuate, take your pet with you, or have a plan for where you’ll take your pet if disaster strikes. You may want to microchip your pets, so they can be easily identified if you’re separated.
- Create a home inventory. Go through your home and document your possessions, even those tucked away in closets and drawers, either on paper or with a video camera or smartphone. Note the replacement costs for your most valuable items, then talk to your insurance agent or insurance customer service to be sure you have the right coverage.
- Identify an out-of-state contact. In case local communications are disrupted, choose a relative or friend in another state to call in case of emergency. Program the contact into your cellphone as ICE (in case of emergency) – a number rescue workers are trained to look for.
- Take CPR and first aid training. If a family member or neighbor is injured during a disaster, this knowledge could save a life.
Visit AAA.com/RoadToReady to download a disaster preparedness kit checklist and family communication plan. The website also includes an interactive game that allows you to test your preparedness skills in a variety of scenarios.
– Michelle Donati is the communications manager at AAA Arizona. Contact her at email@example.com.