We hear about them in the news frequently… tornadoes, flooding, wildfires, hurricanes… the United States is prone to many types of natural disasters. In fact, did you know that natural disasters occur in all 50 U.S. States? As a broadcast meteorologist, I’ve studied meteorology and the weather’s effects on society for nearly two decades. I understand the power of Mother Nature and have witnessed the devastation. If you or someone you love has not been affected by a natural disaster, consider yourself fortunate. We are all prone to natural disasters and it is not a matter of IF one will occur where we live, it is a matter of WHEN. Each of us should do everything we can to keep ourselves and our family, pets, and property safe and secure.
I believe that most of us know that we need to prepare. Yet, we are all so busy in our daily lives, that preparing gets put on the back burner. In fact, according to a recent FEMA survey, only 39% of Americans have a family-communicated preparedness plan. That statistic is astonishing…especially since, according to NOAA, natural disasters cost America $91 billion in damages in 2018. Yet, for many Americans, preparing doesn’t become urgent until there’s actually an imminent threat – like a hurricane looming off the coast. However, following that disaster, after the news headlines change, it is human nature to forget and move on (with the exception of the people directly affected). We grow complacent. Don’t be one of the people on the news saying that they wish they had prepared, but never thought a natural disaster would affect them.
If we set aside some time, preparing in advance is something that we can all do. A trusted name in security for nearly 100 years, Master Lock and SentrySafe offer a full suite of security solutions and tests its products under severe conditions, including extreme fire and water scenarios, corrosive environments and physical attacks. These rigorous testing facilities allow Master Lock and SentrySafe to develop products that offer enhanced durability, reliability and security in a myriad of circumstances caused by natural disasters.
In collaboration with Master Lock and SentrySafe, the following are expert tips and best-in-class products aimed at helping families and homeowners for the unexpected.
Use this checklist to start preparing now.:
1. Know What Disasters Could Affect Your Area: Staying attuned to current weather trends is an important first step. For example, flooding can occur even outside of FEMA-designated flood zones. Understand the flood risk for your individual home or business. Learn more at www.FloodScores.com. There is a 30-day waiting period for flood insurance to take effect after purchasing, so don’t wait until a storm is approaching.
2. Protect Key Documents & Belongings: Losing important documents like wills, passports, Social Security cards and birth certificates can be significant losses and time consuming to replace. Not to mention, many valuables like jewelry, family photos and heirlooms hold strong sentimental value. Securing these belongings in a fire and water-protected safe, like the durable SentrySafe Combination Fire/Water Safe or portable SentrySafe Fire/Water Chest, can help keep your precious valuables secure in extreme conditions caused by natural disasters.
3. Create Digital Copies: Do safeguard original versions of key documents and photos, but also create digital copies and store them in the cloud for easy remote access.
4. Develop a Home Inventory: If needed, you can expedite insurance claims after storms by creating a home inventory now. Start by listing and taking photos of your possessions, along with each item’s worth, receipts and appraisals, and get into the habit of recording new purchases.
5. Protect Your Windows: In the case of extreme winds, make sure your windows and sliding doors are covered to prevent shattering. Hurricane film, metal shutters or even plywood can help protect your windows against flying debris.
6. Prepare Your Home and Yard: Make sure your trees are properly trimmed and ensure your yard is clear of lawn furniture, landscaping equipment and other loose items. Strong winds can also open doors to storage areas and sheds if not properly locked. For enhanced protection, Master Lock’s Laminated Padlocks are “Now Even Stronger,” providing users with best-in-class security upgrades to keep storage areas secure.
7. Consider Investing in a Portable or Home Standby Generator: Storms can knock out power for days, weeks or longer, but a backup generator can keep important amenities functioning, including the sump pump, refrigerator and heat/air conditioning.
8. Ensure Family and Friends Have Access to Your Home: In the event that you’re trapped inside your home – or want to check on a secondary property remotely – using a lock box can provide property access to those who need it. Options like the durable Master Lock Portable Lock Box and easy-to-use Bluetooth Lock Box allow homeowners to access house keys via combination or smartphone.
9. Develop a Family-Communicated Plan and an Evacuation Plan: Resources like Ready.gov provide helpful information on what to do before, during and after each type of natural disaster. Understanding basic guidelines and local evacuation procedures for hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires and other disasters is step one. Step two? Practice various scenarios with friends and family members, including a plan for your children, special needs family members and pets.
10. Create an Emergency Kit: Keep a disaster kit at home and in your vehicle. Key items to store in a kit include:
- Battery-powered cell phone charger
- Flashlights and batteries
- First aid kit
- Battery-operated NOAA weather radio
- Non-perishable food
- Bottled water
For a complete list, click here.
Recent weather trends show that extreme weather events are on the rise and they occur more frequently. According to NOAA, “during 2018, the U.S. experienced an active year of billion-dollar disaster events including the 4th highest total number of events, only behind the years 2017, 2011 and 2016.” As we move into the warmer spring and summer months, many parts of the United States are prone to severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, tropical cyclones, extreme heat, drought and wildfires.
We are all vulnerable to natural disasters, so start the conversation with your family today. Remember, it’s better to be safe, than sorry.