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Disaster preparation keys Building Safety Month

May 20, 2015 at 5:10 a.m. | Updated May 20, 2015 at 5:10 a.m.

The month of May is Building Safety Month, and the emphasis is preparation for natural disasters.

The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) offers these tips on preparing for any emergency:

• Develop a family disaster plan including a list of food and water supplies needed for each member of the family and supplies for pets. Make copies of important documents like insurance policies, the deed to the home, and other personal papers, important phone numbers and a home inventory. Create a checklist of important things to do before, during and after a disaster.

• Families should review evacuation routes and emergency shelter locations. Options for evacuation would include staying with friends and relatives, seeking commercial lodging or staying in a mass care facility operated by disaster relief groups in conjunction with local authorities.

• Taking shelter is critical in times of disaster.

Plans should be reviewed and updated regularly.

Families also need to protect their homes. Steps can be taken to increase a home's chance of survival, even in the face of the worst Mother Nature can dish out.

If an earthquake occurs in a populated area, it may cause deaths, injuries and extensive property damage. Here are some helpful tips to prepare

a family and protect a home.

• Plan and hold earthquake drills. To learn more about planned earthquake drills in your area, visit ShakeOut.org.

• Identify two ways to escape from every room in the home.

• Keep a flashlight and sturdy shoes by each person's bed.

• Select a safe location away from the home where the family can meet after evacuating.

• Have an earthquake kit containing water, food, medicines and other necessities for at least three days.

• Make sure the home is securely anchored to its foundation.

• Strap water heaters, appliances and TVs to wall studs.

• Anchor bookshelves, heavy furniture, appliances and televisions to wall studs.

• Secure pictures, mirrors and ornaments to the wall with appropriate fasteners.

• Know where and how to shut off electricity, gas and water services.

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