How to Prepare for and Cope With Natural Disasters
Summer is here, and with it come sunny mornings and afternoons by the water. But summer also brings an increased threat of severe weather. Take a few minutes to learn how you can plan ahead and prepare for a natural disaster, like a tornado or hurricane.
Make a disaster-preparedness plan
If you haven’t created a disaster-preparedness plan, there’s no time like the present to do so. In addition to keeping yourself and your family safe, having a plan in place for various kinds of emergencies can also help save you time, money and energy. This plan should outline:
- Where you and your family will meet if there’s an emergency
- How you will reach one another if you’re separated
- Where your family will keep your emergency supply kit (which should be prepared ahead of time)
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has more information about creating an emergency communication plan.
Create a disaster-preparedness kit
After making your emergency-preparedness plan, prepare an emergency kit with water, nonperishable food and first-aid supplies. Check out what the Red Cross recommends for such a kit.
While you prepare your kit, consider putting money into an emergency fund. Take an inventory of your home and take photos of any valuables, like electronics, so it will be easier to replace anything that becomes lost or damaged.
Contact your agent
After you have a plan and emergency kit, contact your homeowner’s insurance agent. Knowing when to reach out following (or to prepare for) a disaster is key to minimizing future hardship.
Hopefully, you and your family will remain out of harm’s way, but if damage does occur and you need to submit a claim, provide your company with as much information and evidence as possible. This will help your insurance professional assess the extent of the damage. Get familiar with the claims process with help from this infographic about the home insurance claims process.
It’s also important to make sure you know the extent of your coverage. It may be necessary to begin rebuilding or repairing property damage before funds from your insurance provider are made available. Additionally, flood damage isn’t typically covered within most homeowner’s insurance policies.
We, at WoodmenLife, understand how overwhelming it can be to rebuild after a natural disaster. This is why we offer a unique benefit to our members1 who find themselves in this unfortunate position. If your primary residence is damaged or destroyed by a natural disaster, we will provide financial assistance of up to $1,000 to help with home repair costs. Learn more about this member extra on WoodmenLife.org.
Your insurance company isn’t the only one who can assist you in the event of a natural disaster. FEMA provides housing, medical and property assistance for those who qualify. They also provide information on finding family and friends, repairing property and finding temporary housing. To find out more, visit FEMA’s Recovery Resources website.
Several other government agencies have online resources related to disaster preparedness:
- U.S. Department of the Interior – Natural Disaster Response and Recovery
- U.S. Department of Agriculture – Natural Disaster Food Safety
- U.S. Department of Homeland Security – Natural Disaster Resource and Information List
Coping with Disaster Recovery
Even with these resources, there are certain aspects of coping with a natural disaster that can’t be resolved in a physical sense. This can be further complicated if you have young children, who may not understand what is happening. Be honest, supportive and positive when speaking with your family. See what the American College of Pediatrics recommends for talking to children about natural disasters.
Of course, it’s also important to take care of your mental health. Acknowledging how you feel and taking care of your emotions is just as important as any part of disaster preparedness. For more information, check out FEMA’s guide on coping with disaster.
While we cannot avoid natural disasters, we can prepare for them. So, as we head into tornado and hurricane season, keep these tips and resources in mind.
- An individual becomes a member by joining our shared commitment to family, community and country, and by purchasing a WoodmenLife product. Member benefits are not contractual, are subject to change and have specific eligibility requirements.