Mother Nature can be unpredictable and devastation can hit at any time. That’s just what many cities along the gulf coast have experienced this week. Torrential rains and flash-floods have washed out roadways across the south east, causing many residents to leave their cherished possessions behind to seek safety.

Whether you live in an area that’s susceptible to floods or earthquakes, mudslides or tsunamis – one thing we know for certain, it’s absolutely necessary to be prepared. Consider these 3 emergency preparedness tips so you’ll be better equipped to weather the storm.

Develop an Emergency Evacuation Plan

If you haven’t done it already, create a comprehensive evacuation plan that includes: a list with emergency contact names and phone numbers, a plan for how you will communicate to and locate your loved ones during an emergency, and how you will safely vacate the area impacted by the disaster. Consider discussing things like, emergency exit routes near and around where you live, work and go to school. It’s also good to know where to find shelter if necessary.

Get Out Early

Depending on where you live you may be at risk of experiencing a natural disaster that may require you to vacate the area. Many try to wait it out by “hunkering down,” but the truth is you may be jeopardizing your safety even more by staying. Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Having an emergency kit ready with survival essentials is a good way to make sure you’re prepared to do just that.

Stay Informed

These days there are plenty of ways to stay connected – you’ve got social media, text alerts, radio and television. Keeping abreast of the latest weather conditions may not only help you avoid a potentially catastrophic situation, but will also let you know when emergency restrictions have been lifted and it’s safe for you to return. Be sure to keep a battery-powered radio at hand for times when the Internet and cell phones won’t be available.

Where Mother Nature is concerned, we can never be certain when severe weather will happen; which is why staying prepared is so imperative. In the event you find yourself in the middle of a natural disaster, and you’re not as financially equipped to handle it as you hoped, reach out to your financial institution. Credit Unions, much like Navy Federal often times offer emergency relief assistance to members who qualify.