How to Be Prepared for These Natural Disasters in Pennsylvania


June 7, 2017

You’ve probably given a lot of thought to dealing with inevitabilities in life such as retirement and your kids’ college funds. But what about life’s uncertainties? You’re much less likely to plan for these things, but they’re no less important.

Natural disasters are one such uncertainty. While you may feel as though you’re immune to a disaster – Pennsylvania has a much better track record for earthquakes and landslides, for instance, than its neighbors to the west – natural disasters are still possible in Pennsylvania. The state has gone through several over the years, from the Johnstown Flood of 1889 to Hurricane Agnes in 1972, which displaced roughly 220,000 Pennsylvania residents.

So how do you prepare for a natural disaster when you aren’t sure when one will hit or what sort of calamity you will face? You can follow these guidelines to get yourself ready for the more common Pennsylvania natural disasters.

Tips to Prepare for All Natural Disasters

Here are a few general tips you can follow for all natural disasters. Do these things well in advance to be ready:

  • Create a readiness kit that will cover you in any natural disaster. Include flashlights, a battery-operated radio (or a wind-up radio that doesn’t require batteries), batteries, first aid supplies, water, canned food, a copy of your house key, copies of important financial documents, and cash. Store it in a place that makes it easy to grab and go and make sure all family members know where it is.
  • Have a family communication plan in place. Check out these useful guidelines on how to create one.
  • Start an emergency fund that can sustain you in case you lose your job due to a disaster, you have to rebuild your home, or you need to replace things swept away by the wind or in the rain. You can get more information about types of savings accounts available to house your emergency fund by contacting PSECU.
  • Keep your renters or homeowners insurance up to date. Meet with a trusted insurance representative regularly to make sure you have the coverage you need to be prepared for a natural disaster.

How to Prepare for Hurricanes

While hurricanes in Pennsylvania are not common, they have devastated the state in the past, and the worst of them can rip apart homes, roads, bridges and buildings. Hurricanes such as Sandy, Irene and Agnes have led to power outages across the state, as well as costly property damage.

Thanks to newscasts and online weather trackers, you will most likely have advanced warning of at least a day or more that a hurricane is approaching. Take these precautions to ready your family for a hurricane:

  • Know your hurricane evacuation route. You can download the Federal Emergency Management Agency app to get information on evacuation routes.
  • Establish a “safe room” in your house that fits hurricane preparedness guidelines, where you can go if you’re in the house when the storm hits.
  • See if your municipality or county has an emergency text alert system you can sign up for.
  • Keep your yard and home exterior tidy. Loose gutters, rain spouts or dead tree limbs may cause damage if a hurricane hits.

How to Prepare for Winter Storms

A blizzard can spark power outages and cause roofs to cave in if they aren’t strong enough to handle the amount of snow that falls. Take these precautions to ready your family for a severe winter storm:

  • If your roof is older than 20 years, have it inspected regularly and replace it when it becomes feeble.
  • Have a battery-operated radio (or a wind-up radio that doesn’t require batteries) available in case the power goes out and listen to the radio for emergency information. Remember – your cell phone won’t stay juiced forever without electricity.
  • Store rock salt in the garage so you’ve got it when you need it.
  • Put blankets, bottles of water, first aid supplies and nonperishable food in the trunk of your car just in case you get stranded on the road.

How to Prepare for Floods

According to the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, flooding is the most common natural disaster in Pennsylvania. You should be equally prepared to deal with a flood that develops after days of rain, and a flash flood, which can occur in just minutes. Take these precautions to ready your family for a flood:

  • Make sure your family knows not to drive through a flash flood. Though they form quickly, they’re dangerous and can sweep away cars even if the water doesn’t look deep.
  • Check yearly on the status of your flood insurance.
  • Know the closest location of higher ground and be ready to go there should a flood develop.

How to Prepare for Tornadoes

Tornadoes can strike quickly and without warning. Beware when you see a funnel cloud in the sky. Take these precautions to ready your family for a tornado:

  • Research best practices to follow during tornadoes. You should know, for instance, not to get in a car if a tornado comes.
  • In your house, designate a lower-level room without windows as your tornado-gathering place.
  • Know what weather conditions help produce tornadoes, including dark clouds, big hail and roaring skies. Be on the lookout for those warning signs.

Luckily, natural disasters are rare in Pennsylvania. For more about how to be prepared for any type of emergency, visit psecu.com/prepared.

Are you a Pennsylvania resident? Learn how to join PSECU.

The content provided in this publication is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. PSECU does not endorse any third parties, including, but not limited to, referenced individuals, companies, organizations, products, blogs or websites. PSECU does not warrant any advice provided by third parties. PSECU does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information provided by third parties. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal or other professional if you have questions.