If there's a lesson to be learned from catastrophic storms such as Harvey, Sandy and Katrina, it's that waiting to
act can have devastating consequences. Advance planning for these emergencies can help minimize their disruptive impact and ensure your family's safety. Here are some tips to help you prepare.

1. Prepare an Emergency Kit

 The American Red Cross recommends gathering emergency items you'll need at home and can take with you if you need
to evacuate: 

  •     Two weeks' worth of non-perishable food and water (take three days' worth if evacuating)
  •     Flashlight and portable radio with plenty of extra batteries
  •     Medications and first-aid and medical supplies
  •     Cell phones and car chargers
  •     Emergency contact numbers
  •     Cash
  •     Maps (GPS wears down your phone batteries)
  •     Emergency blanket
  •     Multitool
  •     Important documents such as medical, vital and financial records and insurance policies
  •     Photo ID

Additional kit items for home use include hand tools, disposable paper/plastic ware, plastic tarps, duct tape,
bleach, extra blankets and towels, and recreation items such as books, puzzles and games.

Store these items together so that you can quickly prepare "go bags" for family members or put together a larger
emergency kit for your car in the event you need to evacuate.  

2. Create an Emergency Plan

Select evacuation destinations in several different locations, and in several different directions from home.
Friends' and family members' homes and motels in smaller, off-the-beaten-path towns are often good choices. Find
several routes to each. Contact friends and family members who live outside of the dangerous area before you leave
to let them know where you're headed and when you plan to contact them again.

It's also helpful to identify shelters closer to home. However, the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security's Ready website
notes that public shelters often don't take pets, so it's important to make alternative arrangements for your
animals.

The American Red Cross has additional information on creating an emergency plan.

3. Prepare Your Home

Preparing your home in the several days before the storm can help reduce damage. Kiplinger suggests that you: 

  •     Brace your garage door using a kit available at home centers
  •     Board windows -- tape offers no protection 
  •     Inspect your roof, seal openings where wires enter, and repair loose and missing shingles
  •     Remove dead tree tree limbs
  •     Inventory your belongings
  •     Review your insurance policy to make sure your coverage is adequate

Finally, browse your local government's website for emergency alert information. Many municipalities offer text or email alerts with emergency-response information and instructions, Ready.gov notes.