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Are you in Good Hands?


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No one wants to think about the possibility of an emergency occurring at home, but it's smart to be prepared for a fire, storm or other danger, just in case. So here are some prudent steps you can take now to prepare for minor emergencies (like a leaking roof) as well as major ones (like a house fire or horrific storm):

Assemble a basic emergency kit This should include a first-aid kit, a flashlight and extra batteries, a battery-powered radio, a whistle to call for help, hand sanitizer and moist towelettes. It's also smart to have water for drinking and sanitation (a gallon per person per day, for at least three days) and a three-day supply of non-perishable food (for pets, too). And keep a manual can opener handy.

Learn emergency skills Buy a fire extinguisher for your kitchen and familiarize yourself with how to use it. Get trained in CPR. Learn how to shut off your home's utilities—including water, gas and electricity at the main switches or valves if you suspect the lines are damaged or there's a leak due to a local weather disaster. Make sure every member of the household (including kids) knows how to call 911. Keep plastic sheeting and duct tape available in case your home suffers broken windows or a leaky roof.

Identify escape routes In case of a fire, draw a map of your house and plan escape routes through windows and outdoor doorways. Review these with every member of the family. Place preassembled, flame-resistant safety escape ladders near a window on each floor of your home.

Safeguard important papers Store important documents—like birth certificates, social security cards, insurance policies, property deeds, wills, adoption papers, and medical directives—in a fireproof safe at home or a safety deposit box at your bank. Also, keep photos of your home's valuables in one of those safe spots, in case you need to file an insurance claim.

Develop a family plan Figure out how you'll contact family members and meet up with them if you're separated. You might designate an out-of-town friend or family member as an emergency contact for family members to check in with; sometimes it's easier to make long distance calls during a local emergency but text is best because it minimizes network congestion. Make sure all members of your family know the plan. (FEMA offers a template of a family emergency communication plan that you can personalize and print so every family member can carry a copy in their wallet.)

Consider what to grab as you flee In case you need to evacuate your home because of a fire or storm, it's wise to think ahead of time about what to bring with you. Besides taking family members and pets, you'll want to grab your wallet, forms of identification, important keys, cash and credit cards, medications, your cell phone, tablet, and chargers. If time allows, it's also smart to take changes of clothing, sleeping bags or blankets, and a few basic hygiene supplies.

Did You Know?

75% of people say they are worried about a natural disaster or another serious incident in their area but only 41 percent say they are prepared for one, according to a 2018 survey.