At this writing, wild fires are ravaging parts of the American West, and Tropical Storm Laura, now a hurricane, threatens the South. Rather than be scared, it can be much healthier emotionally, and maybe even save your life, to be ready.

What to do? Firstly, know what kinds of natural disasters are likely. Does a nearby creek nearby ever flood? Check into it. Sign up for alerts. Gather information, like core family members’ phone numbers, birth dates, social security numbers, and medical needs. Note your household members’ frequent locations (like work, daycare, school), their addresses, phone numbers and evacuation routes. You might write down this information, in case your mobile device fails.

Talk with your neighbors. Develop a plan to check on anyone who may be vulnerable, like the elderly, the disabled, or those with small children.

Establish safe meeting places – a windowless room, if your home area gets tornadoes or high-wind storms; a neighborhood spot, like a big tree, in case of fire; a community center, if you can’t get home; an out-of-town place, if you must evacuate.

Again, write all of this down! Store a copy in a kitchen drawer or on the fridge. Be sure that everyone has a copy in the purse, back pack, or other bag used daily. Digitize your plan, plus insurance and medical records, and store them on a cloud service. Email the plan to a few close neighbors and friends, to an out-of-state family member or friend.

Practice! Do a “dry run” yearly, and update any information no longer current. Be sure that little ones know how to call 911, and that everyone can text vital information quickly, and with as few words as possible.

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Be Prepared, Vol. I