The following provides some general tips for staying safe and fortifying your home. To be completely prepared, visit www.ready.gov to view more thorough tip lists that give special instructions about the disasters that are likely to happen in your area.
Ahead of Time
- Inventory the contents of your home and take photos or videos of both the exterior and interior. Be sure to record contents of closets, cabinets and drawers. Keep copies in a safe, separate location if possible.
- Arrange with family or neighbors to have a contact number or location where you can check in to report on your safety or new whereabouts.*
- Gather your vital documents and records and make duplicate copies to be stored in a weatherproof container.*
*Visit CreateTheGood.org for evacuation plan tips and information on duplicating vital documents.
Just Before and During an Emergency
- Close and lock all windows and doors.
- Stay tuned to local news stations via battery-operated radio and be prepared to evacuate if ordered.
- Cover windows and doors with shutters or plywood if high winds are expected.
- Move electronics or valuable objects away from windows and wrap in plastic garbage bags to keep dry.
- Have a supply of bottled water on hand; fill sinks and bathtubs with water to use for bathing, washing clothes or flushing the toilet.
- Shut off water at the main valve and electricity at the main fuse or breaker box.
- Bring indoors outdoor objects that may fly around, such as trash cans and patio furniture.
Getting Back on Track After an Emergency or Disaster
- Understand exactly what your insurance company covers in the event of a disaster.
- Do not endorse and cash any payment from an insurance company that says “final” unless you are sure it is an adequate payment under your policy’s coverage.
- Call your mortgage company to see how reimbursements from your home insurance company will be handled.
- Consider mediation if you are not satisfied with negotiations with your insurance company. In many areas, there is a free public service offered by your state’s insurance commissioner.
- Consult an attorney; local bar associations working with FEMA often set up volunteer attorney sites.
Fraud and Scams:
- Don’t pay cash to a contractor for home repairs and never give your credit card number unless you are paying the bill with it.
- Be sure you have a signed contract detailing the work you want to have done and don’t make a final payment until the work has been done to your satisfaction.
- Make sure that any contractors, plumbers, electricians or roofers are bonded licensed or registered in your state. You can check their license status with your state or Better Business Bureau.
- Try to get several bids before agreeing to any work; a one-third down payment is considered appropriate.
- Beware of home repair loan brokers who guarantee you a loan if you first pay a fee.
- If you suspect you have been taken advantage of, call your state attorney general’s office.
Important Websites and Phone Numbers to Have on Hand:
FEMA (toll-free): 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) - www.fema.gov
American Red Cross (toll-free): 1-800-RED CROSS (733-2767) - www.redcross.org
For more information on preparing for an emergency, visit www.ready.gov.