When disasters occur in the United States, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) steps in to help disaster victims find a place to live if their homes were damaged or destroyed. FEMA also helps to repair homes and public buildings that have been damaged. The agency is part of the executive branch of the government.
FEMA also teaches people how to prepare for natural disasters and offers tips for people to make their homes as safe and as disaster-resistant as possible. Here are some ways to make disasters less disastrous:
Assemble a Disaster Kit
According to the American Red Cross, your disaster kit should include:
- First aid kit and essential medications.
- Canned food and a can opener.
- At least three gallons of water for each person in the house.
- Warm clothing, rainwear and bedding or sleeping bags.
- A battery-powered radio, a flashlight and extra batteries.
- Special items for babies, the elderly or disabled family members.
- Written instructions for how to turn off the electricity, gas and water in your home.
- A place to go if told to evacuate. Choose several alternatives.
Be Prepared for a Fire
- Install a smoke alarm outside each bedroom and on each level of your home. Test the batteries monthly and replace them twice a year.
- Make sure you have at least one fire extinguisher in your home.
- Plan two ways to escape from each room.
- Choose a place for family members to meet outside.
- Practice “stop, drop and roll”—which you do if your clothes catch fire.
…Or an Earthquake
- Bolt or strap cupboards and bookcases to the walls.
- Choose a safe place in every room—under a sturdy table or desk or against an inside wall where nothing can fall on you—where you will go during an earthquake.
- Practice “drop, cover and hold on” at least twice a year. Drop under a sturdy desk or table, cover your eyes by pressing your face against your arm and hold on. If there's no table or desk nearby, sit on the flood against an inside wall away from windows, bookcases, or tall furniture.
- Strap your gas water heater to a nearby wall. This will keep it from falling on someone or starting a fire from a broken gas main.