'Prepared, Not Scared': How to fully prepare for disasters

(WZAW) -- "Prepared, Not Scared" is the theme for this year's National Preparedness Month.

Congressman Neal Dunn introduced a bill to incentivize both residential development and home ownership in disaster areas. (WJHG/WECP)

National Preparedness Month is sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency within the Department of Homeland Security, and it’s part of a governmental effort to strengthen the United States’ preparedness capabilities, whether a terrorist attack strikes, or a natural disaster hits.

Susan Bach from the BBB's Appleton office joined NewsChannel 7 at 4 on Friday to talk about making and practicing a plan.

While disasters don't plan ahead, Bach said it's important that you do.

Start by making an emergency plan with everyone in the home. Discuss how you will receive emergency alerts and warnings, what your shelter plan is, your evacuation route and the household communication plan.

Bach said it’s best to practice your escape plan with your family, including your pets.

She also talked about the importance of basic home maintenance skills that can protect your home and family.

Learn how to turn off utilities like natural gas and electricity and how to test and replace smoke alarms. It’s recommended to test smoke alarms every month and to replace them every 10 years.

You should also know the ways to keep your home safe from cooking, heating and electrical fires.

Bach said having insurance coverage is also key. According to FEMA, more than half of all homeowners in the United States do not carry adequate homeowners insurance to replace their home and its contents should a catastrophic loss occur.

Insurance is your first line of defense, which is why you should check your insurance coverage, and review your policy.

It’s important to also obtain property, health and life insurance, and review your existing policies for the amount and extent of coverage to ensure that what you have in place is enough for you and your family.

Bach added that saving for an emergency is something many Americans don't do. According to the Federal Reserve, over 40% of Americans don’t have $400 in savings. It’s important to be financially prepared for any type of disaster.

Consider saving money and storing it in an emergency savings account, as well as leaving a small amount of cash at home in a safe place. If a disaster strikes, ATM’s and credit card machines may stop working, leaving cash as the only option.

Disasters can be very stressful, but having access to personal, financial, medical and other records is crucial to a quick recovery.

You should also gather all financial and critical personal, household and medical information and store it in a safe, yet easily accessible place.

Find tips and so much more at Ready.gov