Many of us know that disaster can strike at any time.  Yet we often have an attitude of “It won’t happen to me,” or “I know I should get an emergency kit together, but when do I have the time?”  Natural disasters are bound to happen whether it’s a hurricane on the East Coast, a tornado in the Midwest, or an earthquake right here in California.  You need to be prepared.

Since September is National Emergency Preparedness Month, I thought I would share a few tips with you:

Make a Disaster Kit: Buy a large plastic bin to keep in your garage.  At a minimum it should contain enough of the following for each member of your household: water and food for up to 3 days, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools and emergency supplies(hand crank radio and flashlight), and special items for medical conditions.  For a detailed list, visit the American Red Cross website.

Buy a Disaster KitIf you don’t have time or inclination to make your own disaster kit, I encourage you to buy one. There are many places online you can easily purchase a pre-packed disaster kit.  A few that I recommend:  Prepared Pak,  American Red Cross Store, and The Ready Store.

Make a PlanDiscuss a family plan of where to meet if you are not together during an emergency.  Also, agree upon an out of state person to contact to let them know you are okay.

Safeguard Your Important RecordsInvest in a safe deposit box and/or fire proof safe.  Try to store original copies of your important documents (wills, insurance policies, birth certificates, social security cards etc.) in a safe deposit box. If you don’t have access to a safe deposit box, or need ready access to certain documents, like passports, a fire proof safe is a great investment.  If you have to evacuate your home quickly, grab the safe and go. Make photocopies of these important documents and keep them in an easily accessible file in your file cabinet to have the information when you need it.

Document Your Property Assets: Make a video recording of all your belongings and store a digital copy in a fire proof safe.  For especially valuable assets make sure you have an insurance rider if they are not covered by your general homeowners policy.

Photo MementosIf you only have hard copies, store them in one location for quick and easy removal from your home.  If they are digital, back them up to offsite storage so they are protected.

Maintain a Cash SupplyIn the event of a disaster there is a pretty good chance credit card and ATM machines won’t be working. A hidden supply of cash is important to have on hand.  Just remember where you hide it.

Have an Earthquake DrillPretend there is an earthquake (you don’t have to simulate shaking:-) and make sure everyone knows the safest place in the house to go.

Be Prepared on the RoadYou may not be at home when disaster strikes.  Store a backpack in your car with food and water, emergency flares, hand crank radio and flashlight, a blanket, gloves,and first-aid supplies.

Check Your Supplies on an Annual BasisEnsure your water and food are not expired and make sure your emergency clothing still fits. Go over your emergency plan with all family members and make sure kids understand it.

These are only a few tips of many.  There is a lot of information on the web about how to be prepared.  As a professional organizer, I thought I would share some ideas to get you thinking about planning ahead. When disaster strikes I hope we are all safe and the worst that happens is the clutter on your desk becomes a pile on the floor.