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Step 4: Emergency Action Checklist
By Sarah Anderson
The following action checklist includes items that are recommended to be checked and prepared before a disaster strikes. Follow this guide to improve home safety and promote emergency preparedness.
Install Smoke Alarms
Install smoke alarms on each level of your home, especially near bedrooms. Follow local codes and manufacturer's instructions about installation and safety requirements. Be sure to test your smoke alarms every six month as these are your first line of fire defense.
Take First Aid and CPR Courses
Take American Red Cross first aid and CPR classes. Contact your local chapter at http://www.redcross.org/where/where.html for courses in your area. Discuss your needs when registering for the classes.
Confirm your Insurance Coverage
Whether you own your home or rent it, it is important to have adequate insurance coverage. Check your coverage for flood damage and other hazards that are not necessarily included.
Take Inventory of Your Home and Possessions
Another useful technique to assure your financial stability is to make a record of your possessions to help you claim reimbursement in case of loss or damage. You will find it easier to support you claim if you keep photographs or videos of the interior and exterior of your home as well as other valuables.
Get professional appraisals of valuables such as jewelry, collectibles, artwork, and all items you think may be difficult to evaluate.
Protect these documents and store them along with any other vital family records and other important documents in a safe deposit box or other safe location. Important documents include birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, passports, wills, deeds, financial records, and insurance papers.
Know Your Utilities
Some disasters require that you know how to turn off utilities such as water, gas, and electricity at the main switches or valves. Be sure to share and practice this information with your family in case you are not home when a disaster strikes. Keep any needed tools near gas and water shut-off valves.
It is important to practice shutting off procedures. However, do not actually turn off the gas valves for practice purposes. The gas valve can be turned back on only by a qualified professional.
Turn off the utilities only if you suspect the lines are damaged, you suspect a leak or if local officials instruct you to do so.
Your home should be kept well maintained and in good condition whether you own it or rent it. Have structural defects such as cracks in ceilings, walls, and foundations repaired. Fix worn electrical wiring and leaky gas connections promptly.