More than half of Americans aren’t prepared for natural disasters

5 steps to help you prepare

The U.S. saw $306 billion in damage as the result of natural disasters in 2017, making it the costliest year for damages on record, according to the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Still, 60% of individuals surveyed didn’t have a plan in place should disaster strike, according to data released by Farmers Insurance. In an interesting turn, half of people who have experienced a natural disaster as an adult still do not have an emergency kit, and 55% of that same group don’t have an emergency plan in place.

With National Preparedness Month in September, Farmers has collected insights and tips to help people so they can prepare for whatever the future may hold. Hurricanes and tornadoes consistently rank among the principal concerns for U.S. residents, which should not come as a surprise considering that 70% of people surveyed have experienced some type of natural disaster as an adult. This increasing frequency and scale of damage may contribute to the 39% of individuals who don’t feel confident that they could financially rebound from a natural disaster.

Here are some additional findings.

  • Millennials are the most likely generation to have an emergency plan (44%) and kit (49%). Comparatively, 41% of baby boomers have a kit and just 38% have a plan
  • Among the individuals with emergency kits who have pets, 35% have nothing for their pets in the kit, while 30% have pet-specific kits
  • Relatively few individuals consider medical prescriptions (27%) and important documents, such as passports (15%) among the most important items to include in an emergency kit; 82% cited food and water as critical kit elements.

“As insurers, we see the aftermath of damaging storms and wildfires up-close and personal and we know that preparation can help make a difference,” says Jarrod Murrieta, head of claims catastrophe response with Farmers Insurance. “Even though we can’t stop the wind from blowing or in some cases fires from spreading, we hope these tips can help others stay as safe as possible if the worst does happen.”

Here are a few preparedness next steps you can take.

  1. Be proactive: To start, prepare an emergency kit with necessary supplies, food and medicine and make a communication plan. Identify your area’s evacuation routes to determine where your family will meet, and how everyone will get there, should you need to evacuate.
  2. Listen carefully: Having as much advance warning as possible before a severe weather situation is critical. Become familiar with your community’s early warning system, and make sure all family members know what to do when an alarm sounds.
  3. Know your neighbours: There really can be safety in numbers. Join (or start) a neighborhood organization so residents can communicate and share emergency resources, such as generators or chainsaws, if need be.
  4. Research your local risks: Learn about the possible emergencies that are more likely to happen in your region and how best to respond to them. Educate yourself as well about emergency plans that have been established in your area by your state and local government. Knowing what to do during an emergency is an important part of being prepared.
  5. Inspect and protect: Once the storm has passed and you’ve checked in with family and friends, the next step is to call your insurance agent to report any property damage. If it is safe to do so, you can help protect your property from any further damage by making emergency repairs to your home. This could include boarding up windows, putting a tarp on the roof, and salvaging undamaged items.

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