In a major emergency – such as a fire, storm or flood – the impact on your level of stress can be significantly reduced if you have taken steps to prepare. Start by confirming basic safety precautions like smoke detectors and fire extinguishers are in place and know your quick-exit routes from any part or level of the home. Also consider installing property protectors like backflow valves (required in some municipalities), sump pumps, storm shutters and power generators. Then, prepare a plan in the event of a more extended emergency that could leave you or your family vulnerable for days on end.

Experts encourage every household to be stocked with several days worth of drinking water and canned or dried foods. It’s also wise to have a backpack handy, with a change of clothes, waterproof footwear and outerwear, plus energy bars, water, a flashlight and matches. If you have a car, keep an emergency kit in the trunk. Also, be sure that you always have cash on hand and a full tank of gas. Of course, it’s best if everyone’s cell phones are charged at every opportunity, and that prescriptions and other meds are not left running low.