That’s because, while the Federal Reserve estimates that 35 percent of Americans would have trouble covering a $400 emergency with cash on hand and 12 percent of Americans wouldn’t be able to cover a $400 emergency at all, there are easy ways any household can prepare for a disaster before it strikes.
Make an emergency preparedness kit
Assemble enough supplies — including water, medications, and some food rations — for a couple of days living without electricity, water or in a strange location.
Make an extended evacuation kit
One zero-cost disaster preparation tip: Create a kit that includes things you must have if you aren’t ever able to return home. This might include medications, important papers or documents, and something of sentimental value. Then, have it ready to grab if you need to leave immediately.
Count on the neighbors
Another absolutely free preparation tool is investing in social capital. Get to know the neighbors and community, whether by going door-to-door or through an app or a community group. Then, engage. This can be as simple as offering to pick up extra bottled water for a neighbor before a storm or doing a check-in after it is over.
Monitor the risks for free
While having an emergency radio on hand may be helpful, anyone can prepare for or be apprised of coming storms with the help of an app. The app Harbor (iOS) will help anyone form everyday habits to include preparedness in their daily life. The Red Cross’s Emergency Alert (iOS, Android) app allows anyone to identify four locales and get notified when a storm is pending. It also offers helpful tools for disaster preparation. NOAA’s Clime (iOS, Android) app will notify users about everything from hurricanes to tornado watches, and even electrical storms. If lightning strikes within miles of the user’s location, they’ll know it.