18 Things You Should Know if a Natural Disaster Strikes Tomorrow

Natural disasters can occur suddenly and may require you to evacuate your home quickly. It’s important to know how to prepare for disasters that could strike your area and how to react when they happen. Here are 18 things you should know if a natural disaster strikes tomorrow.

Staying Informed Through Alerts and Warnings

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Emergency alert systems, including NOAA Weather Radio, local news, and mobile apps, are important tools for staying informed about your area’s latest updates on natural disasters. Weather radios are sold at retail outlets nationwide and are activated when a weather watch or warning is broadcast.

Securing Your Home

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There are ways you can make your home more resistant to natural disasters, including installing storm shutters and high-impact glass for your windows, storing heavy items on lower shelves, and installing a sump pump. Learning how to shut off utilities like gas, water, and electricity in emergencies can also prevent damage to your home.

Understanding the Basics of Natural Disasters

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It’s important to know the specific disasters that are likely to occur in your area, whether flooding from a nearby river or earthquakes in a seismic hazard zone. The American Red Cross has a map of the most likely natural disasters for each region of the country, with information on each kind of disaster.

Health and Safety Post-Disaster

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The aftermath of natural disasters also poses risks. Some waterborne diseases can spread after hurricane or tropical storm rainfall, and flooding from strong storms also increases the risk of these diseases spreading.

Helping Children Cope with Disasters

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Natural disasters can be a difficult experience for adults and can be especially traumatic for young children. It’s important to include your children in your preparedness plans to give them a sense of control and better understand how a disaster could affect your home.

Community Resources and Support

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Open shelters are a good option for emergencies during and after a natural disaster, especially if you cannot stay with family or friends in another area. Your local government and nonprofits, like the American Red Cross, will provide emergency shelter during and after a natural disaster incident.

Flash Flood Watch vs. Warning

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Knowing the difference between the National Weather Service’s flash flood watch and warning notification system is important. A flash flood watch indicates that your area will experience weather that could make a flash flood possible, while a warning means a flood will happen or has already started.

Developing an Evacuation Plan

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Natural disasters can force you to leave your home, neighborhood, city, or even state on short notice, so it’s important to develop an evacuation plan. Habitat for Humanity advises including your pets in your evacuation plan, identifying alternative evacuation routes, and keeping at least a half tank of gas in your car.

Surviving an Earthquake

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The CDC recommends the Drop, Cover, and Hold-on safety procedure. Dropping onto your hands and knees will prevent the earthquake from knocking you down. Covering your body under a sturdy table will protect you from falling objects. Holding onto your shelter until the shaking stops will maximize your chance of surviving the event.

Handling Wildfires

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Wildfires can rapidly spread, so ensure you have different escape routes planned and practice these routes with your family members. Also, keep track of the weather and fires near your home because you might not get an official notice to evacuate.

What to Do During a Hurricane

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If authorities advise you to evacuate your home before a hurricane, take your emergency kit and leave right away. If your home isn’t in a mandatory evacuation zone, you can stay there or move to higher ground, but make sure you never try to drive, walk, or swim through floodwater.

Reacting to a Tornado Warning

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A tornado watch lets you know that the conditions for a possible tornado are favorable, and you should be ready to move to a safe place. A warning will be issued when a tornado has been spotted in your area, so you should immediately take cover.

Preparing an Emergency Kit

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An emergency kit is essential if you must survive on your own for a few days after a natural disaster strikes. The CDC recommends including a first aid kit, fire extinguisher, battery-powered radio, fresh water, nonperishable food, flashlights with spare batteries, and sleeping bags with extra blankets in your emergency kit. Also, pack any prescription medications and important documents in a waterproof container.

Post-Disaster Clean-Up and Recovery

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Natural disasters can severely damage your home, yard, and neighborhood and fill them with debris. When cleaning up, ensure that you have a hard hat, goggles, an N95 mask, waterproof boots with a steel toe and insole, heavy work gloves, and a fire extinguisher.

Keeping Food Safe During Power Outages

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Power outages lasting for hours or even days may occur in your area following a natural disaster. Keep a thermometer in your fridge and freezer and freeze gel packs to keep your food at 40°F or below. Food in your fridge should be safe for up to four hours if the door is closed, and a full freezer has 48 hours.

Understanding Insurance Coverage

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While standard home insurance covers a range of disasters, some need separate policies. Forbes notes that “flood damage and earthquakes aren’t covered in a standard homeowners insurance policy.” Earthquake insurance can be bought in most states from a private insurance company, and the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private companies offer flood coverage.

Leveraging Technology for Disaster Preparedness

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Apps like Natural Disaster Monitor, First Aid: American Red Cross, and ICE Medical Standard are useful resources for preparing for natural disasters. Your local government’s social media is also a good way to check for updates on the latest developments.

Volunteering and Supporting Disaster Relief Efforts

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Financial contributions are the fastest way to donate to recognized relief organizations, who will know what items are needed on the ground and can purchase bulk items through local businesses to support the local economy. You can also volunteer for organizations like the American Red Cross to help your area recover.

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