If you live in a hurricane-prone area, you probably have a routine in place for when that tropical storm off the coast is upgraded to a hurricane. And if you’ve already been hit by a disaster, you’ve probably made some changes to how your family responds.
But if you’re like most people, your catastrophe preparedness is limited to discussing emergency protocol with your family, keeping a few emergency phone numbers handy and maybe making a checklist that lives on the refrigerator door. And now, the Insurance Information Institute, a disaster preparedness-oriented nonprofit group, has launched an app that will do all of that for you.
The free mobile disaster preparedness app, “Know Your Plan,” provides checklists, communication tools and safety tips to get you ready for a variety of calamities, from hurricanes and winter storms to earthquakes and wildfires. You can get pre-made checklists to learn the best ways to protect your property and prepare for a natural disaster, or customize a list of your own. Then, you can share your lists with family and friends and, if disaster does strike, use the geo-targeted emergency alert feed to find your way to local evacuation routes.
The best practice for preparing for a natural disaster, however, is to get ready long before it takes place and know the risk level in your area. Barry Scanlon, president of Washington, D.C.-based public safety and crisis management firm Witt Associates, says that the first step in mitigating the effects of a natural disaster is knowing that you are at risk. He suggests using the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety’s website to determine the likely risks in your area.
No matter what your risk profile looks like, Scanlon recommends taking pictures of your possessions or making a video walkthrough of your home for insurance purposes. He adds that a worthwhile precaution is installing a generator, developing a family communication plan and practicing a family evacuation plan.
Are you prepared for a natural disaster? Find out by visiting Liberty Mutual’s Catastrophe Center. In the meantime, share your best disaster preparedness tips here.