National Preparedness Month: Staying Safe during Natural Disasters

Stay safe during earthquakes

Every September, the United States recognizes National Preparedness Month (NPM). The goal of NPM is to remind and encourage Americans to prepare for emergencies and disasters in their homes, neighborhoods, and communities.

There are two important steps for preparing for any emergency: assemble an emergency kit with food, water, and disaster supplies and make a plan with your family.

The following tips can help you prepare for specific disasters that may occur near your home.

Hurricanes and tropical storms

  • Determine a safe evacuation route and memorize it.

  • Cut back weak branches and remove trees that could fall on your house.

  • Hurricane proof your exterior doors with at least three hinges and a deadbolt lock at least one inch in length.

  • Install storm shutters or attach plywood to your windows to protect them from breakage.

  • Sliding glass doors should be made of tempered glass and covered by shutters or plywood during a storm.

  • Secure garage doors from wind damage. The negative pressure from wind coming into your home through a large opening like a garage can blow out your roof and supporting walls.

  • Use caulk to seal outside openings in walls (like vents, hose bibs, outdoor electrical outlets, and places where cables or pipes enter the wall) to prevent water penetration.

Floods and monsoons

  • If flooding occurs, get to higher ground. Stay out of areas subject to flooding.

  • Slow down in heavy rains; driving too fast through standing water can lead to hydroplaning.

  • If your vehicle is suddenly caught in rising water, leave it immediately and seek higher ground. Just ten inches of water can float average-sized cars, mini-vans, SUVs and trucks.

  • If a traffic signal is out, treat the intersection as a 4-way stop.

  • Avoid low-water crossings. Never drive through flooded roadways.

  • Never drive around barricades; it is illegal and dangerous.

  • Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.

  • Do not let children play near storm drains or ditches after a heavy rain.

  • Turn around, don’t drown. Never walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.


  • In most situations: drop onto your hands and knees, cover your head and neck or your entire body under a sturdy table or desk, and hold on until shaking stops.

  • If possible, move away from doors, windows, glass, hanging objects, and large furniture.

  • If you’re in bed, stay there and hold on. Cover your head with a pillow.

  • If you’re in the kitchen, turn off the stove and take cover.

  • If you’re in your car, move safely to the shoulder or curb away from underpasses, overpasses, overhead telephone wires, power lines, and utility poles. Take extra caution when you continue driving after an earthquake.