Get Prepared

Plan Ahead

Read the articles in our Storm – Resources section for more tips.

WHN TIP – Disaster Kit Drill: Pick a night when everyone is home. Turn off the TV and lights, don’t use the faucets, fridge or the stove. Check and see what items are missing (special needs for family members, can opener, etc.). Make a list and add these items to your kit.

  1. Learn about thunderstorms and teach your family about storms and lightning
    • Learn about the thunderstorm warning signs and your community’s alert signals by calling the mayor’s office. Each city has its own criteria for sounding alarms.
    • Read our top tips to take when a severe storm watch or warning is issued.
  2. Print out and fill in your WHN Contact List and keep them by your phones for easy access.
  3. Create or locate a safe room in your home where family members can gather during a thunderstorm.
    • The location should be on the lowest floor of the building, and have no windows, skylights or glass doors, which could be broken by strong winds or hail, causing damage or injury.
  4. Create an emergency exit plan for your home.
    • Practice your escape plan every month. Practice using both exits. Make sure windows and doors aren’t stuck and that screens can be removed. Also, practice exiting with your eyes closed or in the dark (it may be hard to see in an emergency especially at night).
  5. Plan in advance where to go if you are asked to evacuate your home. Take some time to really think about it; consider more than one option such as a relative’s home, a hotel, or a shelter.
    • Know where emergency shelters are located. Contact your local emergency management office or American Red Cross for information on designated public shelters.
    • Know the emergency response plan for your workplace, your children’s school or child care center, as well as other places where your family spends time (i.e. church, gym, rec center).
    • Ask an out-of-state friend to be your “family contact.”

WHN TIP – Evacuating During Thunderstorm: It is best NOT to evacuate during a tornado however you may need to evacuate or head to a safer location if you live in a mobile home or a high-rise. Follow your building management and local law enforcement’s instructions on evacuating.

  1. Meet with neighbors either informally or through a neighborhood group to create a neighborhood preparedness plan.
    • Make a note of neighbors or nearby relatives who may require extra assistance. Write down their names and phone numbers, if you don’t have them already. Keep this list with your emergency kit or your emergency contact list.
  2. Always have extra cash on hand (at least $100 or so) because ATMs and credit card machines won’t work if there is no electricity.
  3. Prepare a readily available and fully stocked Home Disaster Preparedness Kit. (Click for a printable list to print out.)
  4. Have a car emergency kit. (Click here for a downloadable list.) Include water, first aid, and a way to signal for help, flashlight and batteries, warm blankets, a shovel, and a battery-operated radio.
  5. Add a NOAA Weather Radio to your home and car emergency kits.
    • If there is a severe warning in your area, a NOAA Weather Radio automatically turns on and alerts you with beeps and sirens. It even alerts you if the power is out (the radios have battery back-up).
    • Look for NOAA radios with “SAME” feature (Specific Area Message Encoding) which means the receiver is capable of turning itself on from a silent mode.
  6. Consider enrolling yourself and/or family members in first aid and emergency preparedness courses such as those offered by the Red Cross.
    • Adult family members should know how to turn off the water, gas and electricity at the main valves or switches. Family members should also know CPR, how to help someone who is choking and first aid for severe bleeding and shock.
  7. Buy extra fire extinguishers and teach each family member how to use them and have a central place to keep it.

WHN TIP-  In Case of Emergency (ICE): In the event of an emergency or after an accident, emergency personnel will use your cell phone to look for “ICE”: who to contact In Case of an Emergency.

Your Home and Property

Getting ready to improve your “shelter from the storm”? Before you begin, contact your local building official so you know what codes are required. They can provide assistance so you make improvements properly the first time.

Check our Storm – Resources section for “4 Steps to Prepare Your Home for a Natural Disaster” and other tips.

Prepare a Home Inventory

  1. Create a household inventory – videotape, photograph or compile a written inventory of your home and belongings. This will make it easier to file an insurance claim.
  2. Keep the inventory off-premises in a safety deposit box or with an out-of-the area contact. The inventory will provide a record for you and the insurance company.
  3. Update your inventory every year or so and every time a major purchase is made or significant renovations are undertaken in your home or on your property.
  4. Prepare a waterproof Master Information Box which contains copies of important documents and records, photos and contact information.


Thank You …

A special thank you to the first responders, emergency workers, government officials, lawyers, insurance agents and people who gave us their time, insight and real-life advice.