You don't always know when your home will be the victim of a disaster, but you can prepare yourself to weather out the storms when they hit. Your home is the headquarters for your life and family, and while it may be uncomfortable imagining something terrible happening to it, being prepared is your first defense. Protecting your home starts with having good homeowners insurance coverage and properly maintaining your home.

Being aware and taking care of potential hazards such as rusty pipes, clogged dryer lint hoses and loose roofing can save your home, but what about the disasters you can't control? With the steady increase of flooding, hurricanes and earthquakes around the world, it is a smart idea to gather some essential emergency preparedness items together so you can grab them at a moment's notice. Here are the top five items that every homeowner should have ready to go, whether you anticipate a disaster or not.

Water
Clean water is the number one emergency supply and for good reason. While you can survive without food for nearly a month before perishing, dehydration will cause your body to quickly lose functionality. Humans need approximately about 2.5 quarts of water daily to stay healthy. Water supplies are often contaminated or disrupted during disasters, so having a supply of clean drinking water is of the utmost importance. Store your personal water supply in containers that are easy to carry and that can keep the water safe from contaminates. Purchasing and learning to use a water filtration system is also a good idea.

First Aid Supplies
Besides bandages, alcohol wipes, tape and gauze, remember to have a months' worth of prescription medicine ready to go. If a disaster hits your area, chances are your local pharmacy will be in trouble as well. Having an extra inhaler, blood pressure pill or diabetic supplies can literally save your life when crisis hits.

 

Food
Having a food supply is another essential item to get ready. Many online emergency stores specialize in emergency rations, and fortunately, the food is a lot better tasting now than in previous decades. When gathering your food items, consider how much you will need for each member of your family, how you will transport it if you need to and what meals you like to eat. And remember a manual can opener if you have canned goods!

Blankets
It is always a good idea to have extra blankets around the house, especially with your disaster preparedness items. You can use blankets to keep you warm, to provide shelter and shade and even to make a pack to carry other items in. Thin, reflective blankets may be convenient and light, but consider adding a slightly thicker blanket to your supplies as it will do a better job of keeping you warm at night.

Flashlight
Having a reliable light source when the power goes out is a necessity. Make sure you keep a reliable flashlight handy in an easily accessible place as well as some extra batteries. If you don't want to worry about running out of batteries, check your local sports or camping store for a wind-up flashlight. These flashlights have a hand crank that you turn rapidly to generate power. Being able to see or signal for help could save your life.

While you cannot stop a tornado or a hurricane, being prepared is something you can control. These five essential home emergency preparedness items are just the beginning of a list of helpful resources that could keep you and your family safe when confronted with a disaster. Start today and be prepared for tomorrow.

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