Be Prepared

Disaster can strike quickly and without warning. It can force you to evacuate your neighborhood or confine you to your home. What would you do if basic services, such as water, gas, electricity, or telephones were cut off? Local officials and relief workers will be on the scene after a disaster, but they cannot reach everyone right away.
Families can and do cope with disaster by preparing in advance and working together as a team. Knowing what to do is your best protection and your responsibility. Learn more about Family Disaster Plans by contacting your local emergency management office or your local American Red Cross chapter.

☑ Discuss the type of hazards that could affect your family. Know your home’s vulnerability to storm surge, flooding and wind.

☑ Locate a safe room or the safest areas in your home for each hazard. In certain circumstances the safest areas may not be your home but within your community.

☑ Determine escape routes from your home and places to meet. These should be measured in tens of miles rather than hundreds of miles.

☑ Have an out-of-state friend as a family contact, so all your family members have a single point of contact.

☑ Make a plan now for what to do with your pets if you need to evacuate.

☑ Post emergency telephone numbers by your phones and make sure your children know how and when to call 911.

☑ Check your insurance coverage – flood damage is not usually covered by homeowners insurance.

☑ Stock non-perishable emergency supplies and a Disaster Supply Kit.

☑ Use a NOAA weather radio. Remember to replace its battery every 6 months, as you do with your smoke detectors.

☑ Take First Aid, CPR and disaster preparedness classes.

More information and a Family Emergency Plan worksheet for downloading available here:

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The keep-it-clean plan for open houses

With a plan of attack, you can maintain a sparkling, show-ready house in under 20 minutes a day.

These room-by-room to-do lists will help you get the work done quickly so that your house is always in tip-top shape to welcome prospective buyers.

Kitchen, 4 1/2 minutes daily

Always start with the sink. A sparkling sink becomes your kitchen’s benchmark for hygiene and tidiness, inspiring you to load the dishwasher immediately and keep countertops, refrigerator doors and the stove top spick-and-span, too.

Wipe down the sink after doing the dishes or loading the dishwasher (30 seconds).
Wipe down the stove top (1 minute).
Wipe down the counters (1 minute).
Sweep, Swiffer or vacuum the floor (2 minutes).

Bathroom, 2 minutes daily

Make cleaning the basin as routine as washing your hands. But don’t stop there. Get the most out of your pre-moistened wipe by using it to clean around the edges of the tub and then the toilet before tossing it.

Wipe out the sink (30 seconds). Wipe the toilet seat and rim (15 seconds).
Swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush (15 seconds).
Wipe the mirror and faucet (15 seconds).
Squeegee the shower door (30 seconds).
Spray the entire shower and the curtain liner with shower mist after every use (15 seconds).

Bedroom, 6 1/2 minutes daily

Make your bed right before or after your morning shower. A neat bed will inspire you to deal with other messes immediately. Although smoothing sheets and plumping pillows might not seem like a high priority as you’re rushing to work, the payoff comes at the end of the day, when you slip back under the unruffled covers.

Make the bed (2 minutes).
Fold or hang clothing and put away jewelry (4 minutes).
Straighten out the night-table surface (30 seconds).

Family room, living room, foyer, 6 minutes daily

Start with the sofa because as long as it’s in disarray, your living room will never look tidy. Once you’ve fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you’re halfway home. If you pop in a CD while you dust, you should be able cover the whole room by the end of the third track.

Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies with a handheld vacuum (1 minute).
Fluff the cushions and fold throws after use (2 minutes).
Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cabinets when you see fingerprints (1 minute).
Straighten coffee-table books and magazines. Throw out newspapers. Put away CDs and videos (2 minutes).

Voilà! You have a house ready for all those last minute showings. No more missed opportunities!

Timeline provided By Real Simple