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When a storm threatens your area, knowing what to do and how to do it will help you and your family stay safe. Being prepared will also save you money, work, and heartache later.

Tips to follow to prepare yourself and your family for a storm:

Make a plan. Consider family members with special needs and/or pets.
Discuss the plan with your family, friends, and neighbors.
Identify a safe room or evacuation location.
Prepare a storm supply kit that includes everything you will need for at least three days.
Follow up with your insurance provider.

Storm Preparedness Planning

Depending on where you live and the types of weather risks you face, you will need to create plans for several things:

*Emergency Preparedness Supply Checklist. These are items you need to have ready to go at al   times in case of a sudden emergency such as a hurricane, tornado, flash flood, or earthquake.
*Emergency Action Checklist. This list should include things you need to do before a disaster.
*Post-Emergency Action Checklist. This should involve what to do if disaster strikes.

Discuss the Possibilities with Your Family

Talk about the risks with your family. Children especially need to be made aware of the types of hazards that could affect your family. Do you live in a low-lying coastal area? Is your home vulnerable to storm surges, flooding, or high wind? Teach your children about these risks so they will be able to make an educated decision about what to do and when it is appropriate to take action.

Your children should have access to emergency phone numbers and know when to call 911. If you are unavailable for any reason, you want your children to know how, and when, to call for help.

In addition, you and your family should have access to contact information for all family members, work places, and schools.

Safe Rooms
Determine where the safest room in your home is. A safe room is a large interior closet, bathroom, stairwell, or hallway with no windows or a room that is enforced with concrete walls such as a basement. If your home begins to break apart during a storm, a safe room is where your family would have the best chance of surviving. Identify the safe room in your home and make sure that everyone knows where it is. When a storm hits, this is where you all should be.

If your home does not have a safe room, find out where the nearest storm evacuation shelter is within your community. Identify emergency escape routes from your home and rehearse them with your family.

Existing closets and bathrooms can be improved to provide additional strength to the walls and ceiling. Consider making these improvements in your home to have peace of mind during the next severe weather event in your area.

A safe room should be stocked with supplies that will help you weather the storm if you are not evacuating. Have a list of storm preparedness supplies ready to go at a moment's notice, and check your supplies every year to ensure things like batteries and perishables are replaced. Your safe room should also have a NOAA weather radio so you can keep track of the weather without leaving your safe room.

Evacuation Routes
If your emergency destination is a shelter or anywhere other than your home, make sure all family members know where to meet in case an evacuation is called when you are not all together. This will ensure you are reunited with your family as quickly as possible.

Have an out-of-state friend or family member as an emergency contact. This way, your entire family has a single point of contact in case you cannot get into contact with each other.

Storm Safety for Pets
Pets are part of the family, too. Keep them safe during a storm by having a crate or pet carrier available in your safe room.

Most storm shelters do not allow pets due to health reasons unless it is a service animal. If your emergency plan involves a public storm shelter or hurricane evacuation center, prepare a list of family, friends, boarding facilities, veterinarians, and "pet-friendly" hotels that could shelter your pets in an emergency.

In case of an evacuation, have a sufficient pet carrier ready in your car so you can bring your pet with you. Having your pet crated during a disaster is beneficial for a variety of reasons:

Pets will feel safer in an enclosed place of their own as they are transported and moved to a potentially unfamiliar location.
You will feel more secure knowing your pet is safe in an enclosed carrier. This will free you up to focus on the most important things such as your own safety and the safety of your family.
In the aftermath of large storms such as hurricanes, there are usually stray cats and dogs that have become separated from their families. Don't let your pet become lost in the shuffle of an evacuation. Bring your pet with you if at all possible.

Read more about storm preparedness for pets.

Insurance Coverage
Check with your homeowners' insurance provider to see if you are currently covered for all possible weather events. Although it is a direct effect of a hurricane, sometimes hurricane coverage does not also cover "flooding", a common result of storm surges along coastal areas.

*This information is general and is not intended to replace or override any of the advice, warnings, or information given by local officials, FEMA, NOAA, or any other official regulatory organization or government branch regarding storm safety in the form of thunderstorms, hurricanes, tornadoes, hail storms, floods, or any other natural disaster or man-made disaster. Always follow take-cover recommendations, evacuation orders, and any other advice given by local officials for your area, regardless of whether it is similar to or different from the information here-in.