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Survey: Americans unprepared for disasters
By Insure.com staff

Ninety-two percent of Americans have lived through a disaster, but most people haven't done what they should to be prepared for the next storm, according to a survey for Allstate Corp.

Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency made 95 major disaster and fire declarations and 112 such declarations in 2012, including Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Isaac and the High Park and Waldo Canyon wildfires. That's almost double the number of disaster declarations made two decades ago.

Yet according to the Allstate survey, 90 percent of Americans have not practiced an evacuation plan in case of disaster, and 64 percent have not completed an inventory of their personal belongings. An inventory helps make the process of filing a home or renters insurance claim go more smoothly. About 30 percent say they would take their chances and ignore evacuation orders in the face of an imminent natural disaster.

"No one should risk putting themselves or their family in danger," Mark McGillivray, Allstate's senior vice president of claims, said in a press statement. "While we see some progress since surveying consumers a couple of years ago, the latest survey results demonstrate there is still work to do to remind people that Mother Nature can strike at any time, any place."

Allstate offers the following tips to be prepared:

  • Discuss an evacuation plan, including a meeting location away from home.
  • Learn the best evacuation routes and keep a map or GPS unit in the car in case you are forced to take unfamiliar roads.
  • Fuel up your car at the first sign of a potential storm.
  • Keep track of weather forecasts.
  • Let an out-of-state contact or neighbor know your plan and make sure family members know who to call in case you get separated.
  • Respect local authorities and law enforcement decisions on when to evacuate and when it is safe to return home.
  • Put together an emergency kit, including first-aid supplies, water, non-perishable foods, weather radio, flashlight, medication and important papers, including insurance policy numbers.
  • Maintain an up-to-date inventory of all your belongings. Take video or pictures of all your stuff, and store them in a safe spot away from home.

Meanwhile, consumers should make sure they have enough insurance, including flood insurance. Standard home insurance does not cover damage from flooding.

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