A Resolution to Keep: Family Disaster Plans Make a Difference

AAA offers tips for a safe new year

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VIRGINIA BEACH, VA (January 4, 2017) – While it’s impossible to predict exactly when a disaster may strike, taking time to plan ahead can help your family prepare for the unexpected, and help ensure their safety in the car or at home.

 “When a disaster strikes, you want to be prepared and plan ahead for the best way to react in an emergency situation. Reviewing your insurance policy can be a big part of that. Make sure that you know what your policy covers to prevent unwanted surprises later,” said Leah Hunger, Director of Insurance for AAA Tidewater Virginia

Tips to Creating a Disaster Preparedness Plan:

  • Prepare Emergency Kits. Emergency kits for autos and home should include a three-day supply of water and nonperishable food for each family member, as well as a flashlight, hand-crank or battery-powered radio, batteries, extra cash, cell phone with extra battery and charger, first-aid supplies, critical medications and basic personal hygiene products. Also useful for a car kit are local maps, blankets, shoes, flares and a basic toolkit.
  • Check Your Coverage. Find out if your insurance policy covers the types of disaster-related damages that could impact your neighborhood. Standard home insurance policies do not provide coverage for floods. For example, melting snow and ice that seeps into a home from the ground up is not covered by standard homeowner’s insurance because it is considered flooding. 
  • Practice First Aid. Learning CPR and emergency first aid can save the life of family member or friend.
  • Find Commute Options. Consider how different types of natural disasters might affect your commute, and determine alternative routes or forms of transportation to get home. Keep a list of bus, ferry, and train routes.
  • Map It. If you live in an area that’s prone to fires or flooding, map out several evacuation routes from your home and neighborhood.
  • Be School Smart. If you have young children and can’t retrieve them from school, be aware of school emergency procedures, and understand what authorization is required for them to be released to someone other than you.
  • Meet Up. Consider where family members might be during a disaster, how they would get to a safe place, and how you will communicate with each other. Agree upon on a predetermined meeting place should you and your family members are unable to return home and communications systems are down.
  • Make Contacts. Designate out-of-state contacts and program their phone numbers into all cell phones as “ICE” – this stands for “In Case of Emergency” and rescue workers are trained to look for it. Attach a luggage tag with your ICE numbers to young children’s backpacks.
  • Plan for Pets. Make pets a part of your plan by creating a pet emergency kit including pet food, toys, and a leash. If you are unable to evacuate with your pet, a pet rescue sticker affixed to a front window can alert rescuers that your pet may be trapped inside. Identify pet-friendly accommodations since pets are not always allowed in emergency shelters. Also consider microchipping pets, so they can be easily identified if you’re separated.
  • Assign Tasks. Create a chart of important emergency-related tasks – notifying family members, managing supplies, handling pets, monitoring emergency broadcasts, etc. – and assign each one to a household member.
  • Take Cover. If there is no time to evacuate, you may need to shelter in place, so it’s important to identify these locations ahead of time. Depending upon the disaster, this could be a storm cellar or basement, or lower room without windows, or even under a large, strong table.
  • Make an Inventory. Document your possessions on paper or with a video camera or smartphone. Note the replacement costs for your most valuable items, then talk to your insurance agent or insurance customer service to be sure you have the right coverage.
  • Review Your Plan. Review the written plan every six months, and keep it stored in a paper file, as well as on the computer desktops and smart phones of the members of your household.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 330,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia