By Colleen Tressler
Consumer Education Specialist
Federal Trade Commission
Extreme weather and natural disasters can occur with little warning. This year’s floods and wildfires are proof of that. Are you ready to leave your home at a moment’s notice? You can reduce your anxiety about these scary events by making sure you are prepared if and when they happen. September is National Preparedness Month and a good time to get your family, pets, and property ready. You can, for example:
• Organize your finances. When it comes to preparing for situations like weather emergencies, financial readiness (www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0126-financial-readiness-times-disaster) is as important as a flashlight with fully charged batteries. Having your financial documents up-to-date, in one place and portable can make a big difference at a tense time.
• Replace missing documents. If you’re missing important documents, now’s the time to replace them (www.usa.gov/replace-vital-documents).
• Check your insurance. Find out if any of your home, health or other insurance policies will pay for temporary shelter, replacement clothing, furniture or other items if you are affected by extreme weather or a disaster.
• Prepare your home. From floods to fires, earthquakes, high winds and tornadoes, check out The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) How-To Series: Protect Your Home or Business (www.fema.gov/protect-your-property). If you live where storms and flooding are likely, visit floodsmart.gov to learn about FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program.
• Plan for your pets. If you’re like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. A little planning (www.ready.gov/animals) today can help ensure safety for your pets during an emergency.
• Sign up for alerts and warnings (www.ready.gov/alerts) in your area. Public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you and your family in the event of severe weather and disasters.
• Bookmark this site (www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0023-weather-emergencies). If a weather event or disaster affects you, come back for tips on recovery and information about your rights.