Disasters can be devastating and some are inevitable, but we can all do our best to be prepared for them. Whether it is severe weather, explosions, chemical spills, disease outbreaks or fire, there are steps you can follow to make sure you and your family and pets can stay safe, find shelter or escape without harm. Here are some suggestions to help you and your family prepare for a disaster.

One of the most important things every home should have on hand at all times is a disaster kit. Prepare your kit for at least a three-day period and with enough supplies for all family members and pets. Put the kit in a safe place and check the expiration dates on food and batteries during daylight savings time switches every year, and then replace accordingly. A few items to remember for your kit are your prescribed medications, a battery-operated radio, extra batteries and pet food.

Along with a disaster kit, your family should have an emergency plan. Plan as a family each role a family member plays in your emergency plan. Discuss what to do, how to find one another, how to stay in contact and work together as a team. If you are instructed or forced to Shelter in Place, be ready to do so for up to three days.

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While at work during a disaster, follow the instructions your company has prepared for such a situation. The Philadelphia Office of Emergency Management has offered guidance for businesses during disaster situations with a Business Continuity Toolkit.

Businesses can also register with the Corporate Emergency Access System. This allows businesses to plan ahead. Participating businesses are given a certain number of CEAS access ID cards for “critical employees.” These employees are able to access works sites to determine devastation and retrieve any important files or other important work-related items. This enables businesses to minimize downtime after a disaster emergency.

Most companies and individuals should make sure they have all important information on their office and home computers backed up and either on an on-site storage system or in an offsite location other than their office or home. There are many companies online that provide such a service including many internet providers.

Related: Cold Weather Survival Guide 

Christina Thompson is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.