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Brace Yourself for Disaster

5 key tips to bring safety and security if trouble hits home

The earthquake, tsunami and radioactive threats in Japan have proven to be an incredible wake-up call for the entire planet. Every time a natural disaster occurs, those fortunate enough to not be stricken with disaster may feel a sense of obligation to those in need, or a re-energized sense of what's truly important in life -- and ask themselves the scary and inevitable question: what if this happened to me?

Here are 5 tips to be prepared and help ensure the safety and serenity of yourself and your loved ones.

1. Remove the cosmic clutter. Cosmic clutter can make a bad situation even worse. Panicking is natural when disaster strikes, but spreading that sense of panic won't help you or anyone else. Breathe, focus your thoughts and refrain from taking in or releasing erroneous information, whether you're on Facebook, Twitter or phoning friends and family. Spreading information is the idea here, but many times, people can be quick to react -- which can start a chain reaction of false information and unnecessary fear.

2. Know the dangers around you. Inform yourself. Do some digging -- ask your local emergency groups and find out where the risk factors are located in your personal environment. Are there flood hazards in your neighborhood? At what sea level do you live? Is the risk for tornadoes especially high in your town? If you live in a high rise building, what are the emergency policies? While there's no way of knowing exactly when or where something may happen, but by taking in your surroundings you can target your research accordingly for better preparedness.

3. Have a disaster kit ready. This is a must! Arm yourself with the disaster kit essentials, courtesy of the American Red Cross.

4. Stay informed. Plug yourself in if you can, for as long as you can -- charge up your phone and keep it close; power up your laptop and stay near the Internet; turn on the TV. Since information changes at such a rapid pace, take it all in and funnel it through your "mental feed" -- and by staying up to date and in the present moment, you'll be able to determine which information is necessary, and which is throwaway.

5. Make a plan with your loved ones. If a disaster hits close to home, you'll want your friends and family to know where you are or be there with you. Sit down and talk with your family and put a plan in motion together. Write down all of your necessary contacts, meeting and/or safe places, exit strategies and emergency numbers for local safety groups and weather warnings. Talk about "what if."

What have you done in recent days to prepare yourself for a possible distaster?

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