Allstate agency owners, employees and other local volunteers recently helped Houston residents build their own disaster preparedness kits at a Good & Ready event on Aug. 3.
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Build a Kit, Create a Plan to Prepare for Hurricanes

Though natural disasters can strike anytime, hurricane season can serve as an important reminder to get your disaster preparations in gear. After all, 2008’s Hurricane Ike and its flooding, power and water outages are still a vivid memory for the millions of Houstonians impacted by the storm’s wrath.

Stay one step ahead of Mother Nature by preparing now for a hurricane. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) says only 15 percent of Americans are adequately prepared for disasters. The following pointers and resources can help you prepare your family and belongings in the event of a disaster.

Create a Disaster Preparedness Kit

Disaster preparedness starts with the basics—stocking the essential food, water, medical supplies and other emergency needs you’ll require during a disaster.

Houstonians recently learned about how to build such a kit during a Good & Ready emergency preparedness event at the 23rd Annual Houston International Jazz Festival. The event, hosted by The Allstate Foundation and Points of Light, and their affiliate, Volunteer Houston, offered families the opportunity to build and take home a free disaster preparedness kit, equipped with a hand-crank flashlight/radio, garbage bags and hand sanitizing wipes, among other items. The event was part of SaferLivesSM, an Allstate Foundation program made available through Allstate agency owners in communities across the country.

Here’s how you can create your own. Ready.gov says your disaster kit’s essential supplies should include:

  • Water. One gallon per family member, per day, is recommended. Ready.gov recommends stocking enough for three days.
  • Ready-to-eat, non-perishable food. Ready.gov recommends options that won’t dehydrate you, such as whole grain cereals, salt-free crackers and canned foods with high liquid content.
  • Manual can opener.
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio.
  • Flashlight.
  • First-aid kit.
  • Whistle, to signal for help.
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape. In the event you must shelter-in-place due to a chemical accident, these items can protect help you from harmful contaminants.
  • Moist towelettes and plastic garbage bags with ties (for sanitation).
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities.
  • Local maps. Apps from the Red Cross and Ready.gov can help you locate shelters and FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.
  • Extra batteries. Be sure to check the battery sizes you’ll need in your flashlight and radio, should you need to replace them.

Create an Emergency Plan

An emergency plan contains basic information that ensures all the members of your household know what to do in an emergency. Ready.gov provides an emergency plan template you can use to establish a basic emergency protocol. Such a plan should include:

  • Family and emergency contact numbers.
  • Out-of-town emergency contacts (in case evacuation is necessary).
  • Doctor, medical and/or pharmacy and prescription information.
  • A designated meeting place or agreed-upon evacuation plan.
  • Common locations you regularly frequent (such as schools, work places, etc.) and their evacuation locations.
  • Useful websites, such as Ready.gov and the American Red Cross.

By creating an emergency kit and instituting an emergency plan, you can go a long way to helping your family better weather natural disasters. For more information, check out www.AllstateSaferLives.org. There, you’ll find brochures, in English and Spanish, that outline the steps for preparing for a disaster, as well as helpful online resources.

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