Being prepared for winter emergencies and other disasters not only protects our families and property, but provides peace of mind.

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It’s not a question of “if” but “when” the next storm hits, will you and your loved ones be ready? And what do you need to do to better prepare at home, work, school and on the road?

Being prepared for winter weather storms – or forecasted natural disasters – helps us all be that much more prepared for an unforeseeable natural disaster in our area, like a catastrophic earthquake. Washington state is among the nation’s leaders in presidentially declared weather-related disasters. The state averages just over one such disaster per year going back to 1950, including floods, windstorms, snow/ice storms, wildfires and landslides. Will you and your family be ready for the next weather or natural disaster to strike our area? Now is the time to better prepare.

Winter weather preparedness consists of three simple steps:

1) Create an emergency preparedness kit with at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water for your home and office. Kits prepared for vehicle road travel and winter weather evacuation go-kits are also advised.

2) Make a plan and practice the plan with your family and those who depend on you.

3) Stay informed and know the weather approaching so you are prepared for whatever Mother Nature throws our way. Knowing when winter weather hazards are approaching and where to find resources to prepare is vital to protect your property and those you love.

Use the tools at www.takewinterbystorm.org to help you get prepared. Resources are available in 12 different languages. Share them with those you love (family, friends, neighbors and community members) to help them get prepared, too.

Being prepared for winter emergencies and other disasters not only protects our families and property, but provides peace of mind. We can’t stop disasters from happening, but we can prepare to survive them. Take steps today to plan for how you will weather this winter storm season.

Preparedness on a budget

Getting prepared doesn’t need to cost a fortune. You’ll be surprised at how many preparedness items you already have and how cost efficient it is to compile what you need.

Plan for the types of natural disasters that can happen in your area – like winter storms.

Create your own personalized list. You may not need everything included in the ready-made kits and there may be additional items you need based on your personal situation. For example, if you have pets, you may need special items. Don’t forget to have supplies in your car and at work.

Look around your home first for items you can place in your kit. You may be surprised how many items you already have around your home that just need to be pulled together.

Budget emergency preparedness items as a normal expense. Even $20 a month can go a long way toward helping you be ready. Buy one preparedness item each time you go to the grocery store.

Save by shopping sales. Make use of coupons and shop at stores with camping supplies and used goods. Dollar and used-goods stores have a lot of needed supplies.

Test your emergency preparedness kit every six months. Only replace and cycle through those items that have a shelf life (i.e. water, food, batteries). You may want to test the radio and flashlight at the same time to make sure they are in good working order. Use Daylight Savings dates as your preparedness test reminder dates.

Store water in safe containers. You don’t need to buy expensive bottled water, but make sure any containers you use for water storage are safe and disinfected.

Request preparedness items as gifts. We all receive gifts we don’t need or use. What if your friends and family members gave you gifts that could save your life? Don’t forget to protect them by sending preparedness gifts their way, too.

Think ahead. You are more likely to save money if you can take your time with focused and strategic shopping. It’s when everyone is at the store right before a storm hits that you might buy things in urgency. Use a list to avoid duplicating items when you are stressed or panicked.

Review your insurance policy annually and make necessary changes. When a disaster strikes, you want to know that your coverage will help you get back on your feet. Renters need policies, too, in order to cover personal property.

Update contact records. Have an accurate phone list of emergency contact numbers.

Trade one night out to fund your family emergency preparedness kit. For example, taking a family of four to the movies can cost upwards of $80-$100. Just one night of sacrifice could fund a family emergency preparedness kit. Get them involved in the preparedness planning.

TakeWinterbyStorm.org is a one-stop emergency preparedness information hub that includes safety tips and regional resources for information about high winds, heavy rains, snow, freezing conditions, power outages, flooding and more.