Storms and severe weather are unpredictable, often occurring with little warning. This weather usually causes hazardous conditions that can threaten the safety of your family and personal possessions. Because of this, every family should have an emergency plan based on their region’s weather hazards and always be prepared for various types of disasters. Here are several things you can do to prepare your home and family for the next severe storm.


Create a Family Emergency Plan


Having an emergency plan will ensure everyone in your family knows what to do and where to go when disaster strikes. FEMA recommends detailing how family members will make it to a safe place and how you will contact one another. Part of emergency planning involves identifying all possible hazards that could occur in your area and deciding what you’ll do in each unique situation. If you’re in a flood region, check out for some great tips on preparing for and facing a flood in your community. Also, consider the specific needs of each of your family members in your emergency plan. For example, find people in your community who can help your pets or kids if you’re caught at work during an emergency.


Assemble a Disaster Kit


An emergency kit should supply your family with everything you need for at least 72 hours. has put together a detailed list of specifications for this kit. Of course, the most important supplies are food and water. Other essential items include a battery-powered radio, flashlights with extra batteries, a whistle, basic sanitation supplies and a first aid kit. Don’t forget to consider what unique supplies you may need for individual family members, especially for pets, children, or seniors. These supplies may include prescription medications, pet food and activities to keep children entertained.


Stay Informed of Emergency Alerts


You and your family should be alerted by public safety officials when natural disasters occur. The country’s alert and warning system is provided by IPAWS. This system uses your mobile carriers to send Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) directly to your mobile device. Don’t worry, you aren’t required to subscribe to any special service or pay anything for these alerts. These alerts appear similar to a text message and accompany a special tone and vibration on your phone. They will tell you what actions to take to keep yourself and others safe, such as whether you should seek immediate shelter or evacuate the area.


The NOAA weather radio is another way to receive alerts about hazardous weather conditions. This is a continuous broadcast of weather information that operates 24/7 and is a great way to stay informed during emergencies. This radio network also broadcasts warnings and post-event information for natural, environmental and public safety emergencies in addition to weather. So, this includes events such as earthquakes, chemical spills and AMBER alerts.


Keep Your Family Calm


For a family with small children and pets, keeping everyone calm can be a struggle. However, staying calm is vital to ensuring everyone remains safe. First, it’s important that you model calm behavior by handling the severe weather without panicking. This will help children feel reassured that they are safe and that things are under control. Answer any questions your child has honestly and try to alleviate any immediate fears. Have kids help you prepare for severe weather so they can feel in control.


Many dogs also suffer from storm anxiety, which can result in aggressive or destructive behavior. Pet owners can try to reduce storm anxiety in dogs with items such as the Thundershirt, an effective dog anxiety jacket that keeps pets calm during storms. Additionally, over the counter calm-inducing treats or medication provided by a veterinarian can help sedate an anxious dog during severe storms.


Once you have an emergency plan in place and all the essential supplies you need, it’s important to review, test and update your plans on a regular basis. Some supplies may have expired and need to be replaced. And, testing your emergency plan will reveal any problems that family members may run into as they seek shelter or try to get in contact with each other. No matter how prepared you are, you can never expect the next severe storm. The best thing you can do is be ready when it comes.