Images in the nightly news from Houston during and after Hurricane Harvey are heartbreaking. It will take years for flooded communities and families to recover.

Harvey reminds us that disasters can happen anywhere at any time. Some are relatively predictable. For example, tornadoes and hurricanes are most likely to hit certain places during parts of the year.

Other disasters are impossible to predict. We remember that years ago a worker accidentally set a fire that burned an enormous quantity of Styrofoam insulation in the roof of a sewer building near our home. Clouds of toxic smoke billowed out, and the mayor ordered an immediate evacuation.

Fortunately, we were prepared. Within fifteen minutes we loaded our survival bin, sleeping bags, a tent, drinking water and our two young kids in the car. An hour later we were camped well away from the smoke.The next day the fire was out, the air clean, and we were home.

Everyone should make emergency plans and acquire emergency items in case of a disaster that shuts down local stores and utilities or forces an evacuation.

Click on the Preparedness Section of for specific tips on how to survive disasters and a list of suggested items to stock in a disaster kit.

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