Being prepared for winter storms – or forecasted natural disasters – also helps us be more prepared for an unforeseeable natural disaster.

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Weather experts are predicting the Northwest will see another La Niña winter this year. A typical La Niña pattern means colder temperatures and more precipitation for the Northwest.

Since 1950, Washington state has averaged just over one presidentially declared weather-related disaster per year. These events include floods, windstorms, snow/ice storms, wildfires and landslides.

Being prepared for winter storms – or forecasted natural disasters – also helps us be more prepared for an unforeseeable natural disaster in our area, like a catastrophic earthquake.

Here are three simple steps to take before the next storm or natural disaster strikes.

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1) Build a kit with at least a three-day supply of nonperishable food and water for both home and office. Stashing a kit in the car is a good idea, too, in case evacuation is required.

2) Make a plan and practice that plan with family and anyone else whose safety may depend on it.

3) Stay informed and know the weather approaching, to be 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 property and loved ones.

Use the tools at www.takewinterbystorm.org to help with preparations. Resources are available in 12 different languages. Share them with 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 this winter storm season.

Budget-friendly preparedness

Getting prepared doesn’t need to cost a fortune. Most people already have many preparedness items and careful shopping can fill in the gaps without breaking the budget.

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 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.

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 dollar stores and stores with camping supplies and used goods.

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). Test the radio and flashlight to make sure they are in good working order. Use daylight saving time 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.

Think ahead. You are more likely to save money if you can take your time with focused and strategic shopping. Use a list to avoid duplicating items when you are stressed or panicked.

Review your insurance policy annually and make necessary changes. 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 $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.