Earthquakes, floods, tornados, hurricanes—although such disasters are a natural part of the world, they always seem to take us off guard. While you can’t always know when a disaster is coming, you can be ready to deal with one. Here are some precautions you can take to help your family pull through a disaster:

  • Obtain informational pamphlets on dealing with disasters from your local fire department or Red Cross. Review these with your family and organize an action plan for a variety of disasters.

  • Help your family organize a 72-hour kit, including clothes, nonperishable food, a flashlight, medicine, water, a radio, blankets, and other essentials.

  • Keep a flashlight with fresh batteries near your bed.

  • Help coordinate and rotate your family’s food storage. Make sure necessary items are well stocked.

  • Know where your home’s gas, water, and electricity controls are. Have your parents show you how to turn them off in an emergency, and keep any needed tools nearby.

  • With your parents’ supervision, test your smoke alarms and make sure all batteries are strong.

  • Learn the signals your community uses to warn of potential disasters. Know where to tune your radio for instructions when the signals are given.

  • Assemble a first-aid kit and learn how to use it properly.

  • Know basic fire safety rules, including how to extinguish fires and avoid smoke.

  • Make a priority list of items to bring with you if you need to leave home in a hurry. Necessities and things that can’t easily be replaced, such as photos and scrapbooks, should come first. Remember, however, that you and your family are more important than any objects.

  • Memorize the phone numbers of your local police and fire departments, as well as those of friends and relatives you can count on for help.

  • If you hear of a disaster elsewhere, ask yourself, “What would I have done in that situation?”

Photography by Welden Andersen