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Actionable Steps to Enhance Disaster Preparedness

Considering natural disasters can strike at any time, being ready is essential—especially given the unpredictable weather of today. From wildfires to floods, to tornadoes and hurricanes, being ready can make all the difference.

REALTORS® can be better equipped to help customers and clients make informed decisions and stay safe during emergencies when they have a thorough understanding of the local disaster risks.

The most frequent natural disasters in the Southwest are wildfires, flooding and drought:

  • Wildfires: Frequent due to dry conditions, high temperatures, and abundant vegetation. Learn more at the National Interagency Fire Center.

  • Flooding: Can occur from heavy rains, snowmelt, and the failure of dams or levees. Learn more at

  • Droughts: Prolonged periods of low rainfall, affecting water supply and agriculture. Learn more at

For homeowners, creating comprehensive disaster preparedness plans involves several key steps to ensure safety and minimize damage during emergencies. Understanding these risks is crucial for preparedness and safety.

Here's a detailed guide to help homeowners prepare for :

1. Risk Assessment

  • Identify Potential Hazards: Determine the types of disasters likely to occur in your area (e.g., earthquakes, floods, wildfires, hurricanes).

  • Home Vulnerability: Assess your home's vulnerability to these hazards.

2. Create an Emergency Plan

  • Communication Plan: Establish a plan for communicating with family members during a disaster.

  • Evacuation Routes: Identify and practice multiple evacuation routes from your home and neighborhood.

  • Meeting Points: Designate safe meeting points both near your home and outside your immediate area.

  • Emergency Contacts: Compile a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services, family members, and friends.

3. Assemble Emergency Supplies

  • Basic Supplies: Water (one gallon per person per day for at least three days), non-perishable food, flashlight, batteries, first aid kit, whistle, dust masks, plastic sheeting, duct tape, and basic tools.

  • Personal Items: Prescription medications, glasses, infant formula, diapers, pet food, and important family documents (e.g., insurance policies, identification).

  • Hygiene Supplies: Moist towelettes, garbage bags, and plastic ties for personal sanitation.

4. Home Preparedness

  • Structural Safety: Secure heavy furniture, water heaters, and other items that could cause injury if they fall. Retrofit your home to withstand specific local hazards (e.g., reinforce your roof and windows for hurricanes).

  • Utilities: Learn how to shut off your home's gas, water, and electricity.

  • Smoke and CO Detectors: Install and regularly test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

5. Financial Preparedness

  • Insurance: Ensure you have adequate insurance coverage for your home and belongings, including specific disaster-related insurance if needed.

  • Emergency Fund: Set aside an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses during and after a disaster.

6. Stay Informed

  • Local Alerts: Sign up for local emergency alerts and warnings.

  • Weather Apps: Use weather apps and listen to local news to stay informed about potential threats.

7. Practice and Maintain

  • Drills: Conduct regular disaster drills with your family.

  • Plan Review: Review and update your disaster preparedness plan and supplies at least once a year.

  • Community Involvement: Engage with your community’s disaster preparedness programs and initiatives.

8. Drought Preparedness

  • Water Conservation: Educate family members about the importance of water conservation and involve them in drought preparedness efforts. Keep an emergency supply of potable and non-potable water.

  • Community Programs: Participate in local water conservation programs and stay informed about water restrictions and guidelines in your area.

  • Home Maintenance: Regularly inspect your home for hidden leaks in plumbing, irrigation systems, and appliances.

Additional Resources

  • FEMA’s Ready Campaign: Offers comprehensive guides and resources for disaster preparedness.

  • Local Government Websites: Often provide region-specific information and resources for disaster preparedness.

By following these steps, homeowners can significantly improve their readiness for various types of disasters, ensuring better safety and resilience for themselves and their families.


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