reviewed 7/26/2018

Disaster preparedness: Myth or fact?

Every year, thousands of people around the country are affected by natural disasters. You can't always predict when or where the next calamity will strike, but you can learn what to do in an emergency. How much do you know?

Myth or fact: Disasters only happen in certain places.

Myth. Disasters—whether they be fires, floods, earthquakes, tornados or hurricanes—can happen in nearly every community. And even if you don't live in an earthquake zone or in Tornado Alley, a disaster might strike while you're traveling in the region. So it's a good idea to be familiar with the basics of surviving various catastrophes.

Myth or fact: Strapping duct tape across your windows will protect them from breaking during a hurricane.

Myth. Tape will not prevent your windows from breaking. Your best protection is installing permanent storm shutters that you can close when high winds are expected.

Myth or fact: If you're on the open road during a tornado, you should stay in your car.

Fact. First, try to drive to the closest sturdy shelter. But when debris starts flying, pull over and park. Leave the engine running. Be sure your seat belt is buckled. And put your head below the windows. If you have a blanket, use it to cover your head.

Myth or fact: You're safe from lightning if the sky above you is clear.

Myth. If there's a storm in your area, seek shelter. Lightning can strike as far as 15 miles away from a storm.

Myth or fact: Floodwater doesn't have to be deep to be dangerous.

Fact. Even 6 inches of fast-moving water can knock you off your feet. If the flowing water is above your ankles, seek another route. Also, don't let the size of your vehicle fool you into feeling safe in floodwaters. SUVs, pickups and other large vehicles can be swept away in just 2 feet of rapid water.

A good first step toward disaster preparedness is making sure you have a fully stocked disaster kit, including first aid supplies. Use this infographic to find out what your first aid kit should include.

Explore first aid essentials

Sources: American Red Cross; Federal Emergency Management Agency; Ready.gov

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