Easy tips for disaster preparedness

September 9, 2022 by PEMCO Insurance

GettyImages-1349301010.jpgIf the last two-and-half years has taught us anything ... it's to expect the unexpected.

Emergency and disaster preparedness is the kind of thing we really don’t want to think about and often shrug off, especially when there is no impending disaster we know of. But it’s also the kind of thing that feels profoundly important once an actual emergency happens, and we find ourselves regretting the lack of thought we put into preparedness when everything was “fine.” That’s why this September we’re taking advantage of National Preparedness Month to talk about all things disaster prep and make sure you’re equipped with the tools you need. 

Both state and national agencies use National Preparedness month to promote emergency preparations and planning, as well as encourage community members to take action before—not during or after—a disaster. In a way, it’s a lot like insurance. You don’t think you need an umbrella policy until someone is injured on your property … and you realize you need an umbrella policy. 

What kind of disasters should I prepare for? 

Here in the PNW, it’s important to prepare for: 

  • Wildfires and wildfire smoke 

  • Heavy rain and flooding 

  • Power outages 

  • Infectious disease outbreaks 

Most preparations are beneficial across the board. For example, having a generator, a backstock of clean drinking water, a first-aid kit, and access to foods that are shelf-stable for a long time will be helpful regardless of the type of emergency. (And, after 2020, we know that toilet paper would be be a good addition to that list, too.)

What preparations should I make first? 

While large earthquakes, flooding from tsunamis, significant power outages or record-breaking mudslides may sound unlikely, it’s important to equip yourself and your property so you can stay safe if disaster ever does strike. Here are some things you can do first: 

  • Make an emergency kit. Your emergency kit should be easily accessible and small enough so that one person can carry it if needed. In it should be: 
    • Drinking water for each person 
    • Some dried or canned food and a can opener 
    • A first-aid kit, including a book or pamphlet with instructions for basic first-aid skills 
    • Waterproof matches 
    • Copies of important documents, such as passports or birth certificates 
    • A flashlight or two, as well as additional batteries 
    • Extra car key and house key 
    • A blanket, or a couple 
    • Any back-up medication or “special needs” supplies such as inhalers, contact lenses, EpiPens, insulin, daily medication, infant formula, etc. 
    • A small supply of pet food and/or pet necessities 
  • Optimize your smart phone. A smart phone can be a fantastic communication tool during an emergency. In many places throughout the PNW, you can sign up to receive alerts that let you know about impending threats such as flooding, severe weather, and even police activity. Additionally, FEMA and The Red Cross have apps that allow you to get alerts about disasters and severe weather. It’s a good idea to have at least one of these apps downloaded, installed, and set to receive alerts even when there’s no disaster “on your radar.” 

  • Be “two weeks ready.” The Oregon Department of Emergency Management (OEM) recommends that all households have enough supplies (including food and water) to survive for up to two weeks after any disaster. “For every person prepared, that’s one less person first responders will need to assist, allowing them to prioritize life-threatening situations,” says the OEM. 

  • Make a plan with your family and household members. You might not all be together at the same time if something happens. Plan in advance about where you will meet, how you will communicate, and consider assigning responsibilities. has a template for creating a family plan that works for you. 

How might my insurance come into play in an emergency or natural disaster? 

It’s important to remember that most homeowners' policies don’t cover damage from earthquakes and flooding. Those require separate policies (one for earthquakes, one for flooding). While PEMCO doesn’t sell them, we can help you get them. However, generally speaking, your home policy will cover damage from events like windstorms and wildfires. PEMCO partners with Wildfire Defense Systems (WDS) to provide free services to help protect your structures that are at-risk of an active wildfire.  

We encourage our customers and community members to take advantage of September's National Preparedness Month to increase their awareness and begin planning and prepping with their family and/or neighborhood. While we always hope worst case scenarios will never happen to us, we also hope to never be in the position of saying “I wish I was a little more prepared for this ...”  

Remember, if you need to make a claim, you can do so 24 hours a day, seven days a week at or by calling 1-800-GO-PEMCO (1-800-467-3626). 

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