Short Answer- Each type of disaster brings with it a unique set of risks. Know what type is most common for your area, and learn what to do ahead to prepare for a natural disaster. See our guide below:

When you hear the emergency alert, you want to be ready to take action! Here’s the lowdown of what you need to know when disaster strikes to keep you and your family safe.

The Basics

  • Listen – Keep tuned to emergency broadcasts and follow the instructions of any trained emergency responders in your area.
  • Water Plan – If you have time before the storm hits, and you think water lines could be effected, fill up your bathtub before you turn off your water so you have a backup supply. You can use this water for hand washing, or pouring down the toilet to flush it if the water remains shut off.
  • Unplug and Shut Off – If you think they might be damaged and you have enough time, shut off the gas, water, and electrical lines. Unplug all electronics in the house; like TVs, microwaves, appliances, and computers. This is a good job to assign an older child, just practice with them ahead of time so they know what to do.

How To Shut It All Down

  • Natural Gas – The valve is usually outside and will require a wrench for shutoff (make sure you keep one handy). If you don’t know how to shut it off, contact your local gas company and ask ahead of time so you’re prepared for when disaster strikes.
  • Electricity – If you’re expecting a flood or tsunami, turn off the main breaker. One caveat, if there’s already water in the basement or floor, then don’t touch the panel.  It could be dangerous.
  • Water – Find and shut off the main valve to prevent pipes from bringing in dirty water. It’s likely in the basement (if you have one) or if you don’t, then it might be near the water heater or under the kitchen sink. If you don’t know where it is, find out so you’re prepared.

Prepare For A Natural Disaster

Get to the basement as soon as you can. If you don’t have one, head to a neighbor’s basement or a storm shelter. Know ahead of time where you will go. If you don’t have time, put as many walls between you and outside as you can…get to the center of the house.  Stay away from windows, glass cabinets, and doors. Get under a sturdy table (if you can) and cover your head.
If you have time, move valuables to a higher floor or attic before you leave. Shut off the power and unplug electronics…but do NOT touch either if your home is already wet or you’re standing in water. You could be electrocuted. Also, don’t walk through moving water as you could get caught in a fast moving tide and be carried away.
If time allows, secure unanchored objects around your home. Tsunami waves can sweep away loose objects.  Securing them, or even moving them inside, can reduce the potential loss. Get to higher ground as far inland as possible. 

Never watch a tsunami wave from a beach or cliff, this can put you in grave danger. If you can see the wave, you are too close to escape it. If you don’t have time to get to higher ground, try climbing to a rooftop or tree top, or grab something buoyant and hold on.

If you see a fire, call 911 immediately. Do NOT just assume someone else has reported the fire, that may not be true. Listen for evacuation orders and if you get one, get out of your house right away, following your family evacuation plan. Contact friends or family once you arrive at your safety shelter.
If you have hurricane shutters, lock em’ up. (Don’t tape your windows, it offers little protection other than a false sense of security, flying storm debris can still penetrate tape.) Secure outside doors first, then the inside ones.  

Go to a small room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level. Keep blinds closed, and stay away from windows and glass. Also keep in mind there is an “eye” in every storm, so if they winds lull….don’t take that as a cue to leave, the winds may pick up again. Stay tuned to emergency broadcasts.

If one hits, get inside a hardtop car (the tires will ground you) or a building. Shutter the windows and secure all doors. Avoid taking a shower, since pipes and fixtures conduct electricity. If you’re outside, to avoid lightning strikes, avoid tall trees, open fields, the beach, or metal poles or objects.
You usually don’t get much warning with this one, but if the earth starts moving drop, cover, and hold on. Get down on your hands and knees (before you fall over), cover your head and neck by getting underneath a sturdy table and hold onto something until the shaking stops. Once it’s safe, get outside and watch for aftershocks.