Natural disasters — such as hurricanes, floods and wildfires — have become so common that 92% of Americans polled by insurer Allstate say they have survived at least one. Yet, far too many people say they are unprepared for the next one.
According to published figures, The Federal Emergency Management Administration made 95 major disaster and fire declarations in 2013, and 112 in 2012. That year was particularly bad, given the combination of disasters including Sandy, Hurricane Isaac and the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires.
However, despite these seasons of disaster, many Americans are not prepared for the next big crisis. Allstate found that more than 90% of the people they talked to have not practiced an evacuation plan for when a major storm is approaching.
Sixty-four percent have no inventory list of their belongings, while 30% plan to take their chances, and ignore evacuation orders.
With each major disaster come stories of people who chose to “ride out the storm” – and suffered terrible consequences. Yet, we still see nearly a third of Allstate’s respondents planning to do just that.
Being prepared for a storm does take some effort, and planning, but it’s not that difficult.
Allstate recommends taking these steps:
Discuss an evacuation plan, including a meeting location away from the home.
Learn the best evacuation routes and keep a map or GPS unit in the car in case you are forced to take unfamiliar roads.
Fill up the fuel tank of your vehicle(s) at the first sign of a potential storm.
Stay informed of the latest weather in your area by signing up for a service like Allstate Alerts.
Let an out-of-state contact or neighbor know your plan and make sure family members know who to call in case you get separated.
The company also recommends that you prepare an emergency kit. The kit can include a first-aid kit, personal hygiene items, water supply, non-perishable foods, weather radio and flashlight.
People who are on prescribed medications should include them — or at least have a prescription. Also, bring cash, important papers and insurance policy numbers.
Your home inventory should include a room-by-room evaluation of personal belongings. Allstate also recommends you use an application like Digital Locker to help create an online inventory.
Natural disasters are overwhelming, and scary. This may be why so many people choose not to plan for them. But natural disasters are a fact of life, and a little preparation can go a long way toward making them survivable.
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